Monday, July 20, 2009


AKA Joseph Mallord William Turner
Known as: English Romantic landscape artist (the painter of light)
Born: 1775, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, UK
Birthname: Joseph Mallord William Turner
Died: 19 December 1851, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, UK

The Painter of Light", English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner devoted to his entire life to art. Turner was born in London, England, on April 23, 1775. His father was a barber. His mother died when he was very young. The young Turner received little schooling. His father taught him how to read, but this was the extent of his education except for the study of art. By the age of 13 William Turner was making drawings at home and exhibiting them in his father's shop window for sale. Turner was 15 years old when he received the rare honor of having one of his paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy. By the time he was 18 he had his own studio, and before he was 20 print sellers were eagerly buying his drawings for reproduction. Turner quickly achieved a fine reputation and was elected an associate of the Royal Academy. In 1802, when he was only 27, Turner became a full member.
(Simply Art Homepage)
He entered the Royal Academy of Art schools in 1789, when he was only 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy at the time, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to continue painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick (junior). A watercolour of Turner's was accepted for the Summer Exhibition of 1790 after only one year's study. He exhibited his first oil painting in 1796, Fishermen at Sea, and thereafter exhibited at the academy nearly every year for the rest of his life.

Fishermen at Sea
Oil on canvas, 1796
Tate Gallery, London
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Self portrait, oil on canvas, circa 1799
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a Romantic self-image. Turner's eyes are rock-steady, piercing, almost like a bird's. All about him are shadows and mystery. With his unkempt hair, his white neckerchief and silver waistcoat, he paints himself as a hero, staring us down unblinkingly. By painting himself head-on, however, Turner also does his best to minimise the effect of his huge nose. This feature was captured far more cruelly in a profile portrait of him at the age of 17 by George Dance, in which, with his long hair and homely features, Turner looks like a French revolutionary hooligan. He is a revolutionary in this painting, too, but an intellectual and aesthetic one. By depicting himself in tenebrous, intense isolation, he sets himself apart as an artist with a mission.
It is superbly dramatic. The unlit background sets him off and seems empty, as if it were deep space and he were a star. He is all light: his blond hair, ruddy cheeks, scarf and waistcoat glow. As a self-portrait, it is also distinctive in what it leaves out. Painters tended to depict themselves in the act of painting. That is how we see Sir Joshua Reynolds in his Self-Portrait (c1747-9) or William Hogarth in his from c1757, both in the National Portrait Gallery. Yet Turner does not even hold a brush. In this painting, like Rembrandt in many of his self-portraits, Turner shows himself as just a face and a mind, without any social or professional attributes. The comparison with Rembrandt is surely intended. The shadowiness around Turner and his glowing flesh seem to emulate the Dutch master. By painting himself in this way, Turner asserts that art takes place in the head. His art is one not of appearance but of imagination. He does not show you something, but provokes you to imagine it. This portrait is a manifesto for the way his works try to awaken the inner eye.
(Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Saturday 5 May 2001 at © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009)
During the first period (1800-20) Turner painted many picturesque mythological and historical scenes in which the coloring was subdued and details and contours were emphasized. He was influenced by the 17th-century French landscape painter Claude Lorrain, notably in the use of atmospheric effects, as in The Sun Rising Through Vapor (1807, National Gallery, London), and in the treatment of architectural forms, as in Dido Building Carthage (1815, National Gallery). Turner also produced numerous engravings for his unfinished collection Liber Studiorum (1806-19).
(From CGFA Homepage)

Dido Building Carthage
Oil on canvas, 1815
National Gallery, London
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

"The great pyrotechnist", one of the finest landscape artists in English history, if not the best, he produced more than 20,000 paintings and drawings in his lifetime, and his frequent rambles across Europe happen to make him a perfect subject for Google Earth.
JMW Turner was celebrated in his own time, and deluged with commissions, but he was also the Jackson Pollock of his day, scathingly reviled for "hurling soapsuds and whitewash" at canvases with a mop even Queen Victoria thought him mad and his foul temper and reclusiveness lost him many friends.
Just five foot four inches tall, he was nevertheless the artistic giant of the early 19th century. The heir of the classic traditions of European art produced many paintings considered overtly revolutionary. He portrayed the great themes of the era, but even in his monumental 1812 work "Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps", Hannibal and his men hardly figured at all.

Oil on canvas
57 3/8 x 93 1/2 inches (146 x 237.5 cm)
Tate Gallery, London, England
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

In Hannibal Crossing the Alps (1812), an emphasis on the destructive power of nature had already come into play. His distinctive style of painting, in which he used watercolour technique with oil paints, created lightness, fluency, and ephemeral atmospheric effects.
Turner's real subject, the obsession of his life, was light itself. Just as the great cultural flowering of Romanticism began, Turner was praised by the French impressionists, Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Renoir formally acknowledging "that [we] have been preceded in this path by a great master of the English, the illustrious Turner".
"All that is vital in modern art," the art critic Haldane Macfall wrote in 1920, "was born out of the revelation of Turner." He was, as has been noted often and with affection, the last of the Old Masters and the first of the New.
(Google Earth Community )
The paintings of the artist's second period (1820-35) are characterized by more brilliant coloring and by diffusion of light. In two of Turner's best works, Bay of Baiae (1823, National Gallery) and Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus (1829, National Gallery), his use of light lends radiance to the colors and softens architectural and topographical forms and shadows. During this period he also executed a number of illustrations for books on topography and a collection of watercolors depicting Venetian scenes.
(From CGFA Homepage)
Turner received his first royal commission in 1822, when he was forty-eight. King George IV asked him to paint a large picture of the Battle of Trafalgar, as part of a series of British victories to hang in St. James's Palace.
The battle had taken place in 1805. Lord Nelson had prevented Napoleon from gaining control of the Channel, but had then been killed on board his own ship, the Victory. This is one of two oil sketches for George IV's picture (now at the Maritime Museum, Greenwich). Nelson's ship dominates the composition.
(From the display caption August 2004/Tate Online)

The Battle of Trafalgar
oil on canvas,1822
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus - Homer's Odyssey
Oil on canvas, 1829
52 1/8 x 79 7/8 inches (132.5 x 203 cm)
National Gallery, London
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Turner's artistic genius reached its culmination during his third period (1835-45). In such works as Snow Storm: Steam Boat Off a Harbor's Mouth (1842, Tate Gallery, London), Peace—Burial at Sea (1842, Tate Gallery), and Rain, Steam, and Speed (1844, National Gallery), he achieved a vibrant sense of force by presenting objects as indistinct masses within a glowing haze of color. Some of the forces represented are the strength of the sea and the rhythm of rain. Other famous works of this period include The Fighting Téméraire (1839, National Gallery), The Sun of Venice Going to Sea (1843, National Gallery), and The Approach to Venice (1844, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Turner died in London on December 19, 1851.
(From CGFA Homepage)

Rain, Steam, and Speed –
The Great Western Railway
Oil on canvas, 1844
91 cm × 121.8 cm (36 in × 48 in)
National Gallery, London
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fighting Temeraire tugged
to her last Berth to be broken
Oil on canvas, 1838
91 cm × 122 cm (36 in × 48 in)
National Gallery, London
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One of his most famous oil paintings is The fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, painted in 1838, which hangs in the National Gallery, London.
When Turner came to paint this picture he was at the height of his career, having exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, for 40 years. He was renowned for his highly atmospheric paintings in which he explored the subjects of the weather, the sea and the effects of light. He spent much of his life near the River Thames estuary and did many paintings of ships and waterside scenes, both in watercolour and in oils.
Turner frequently made small sketches and then worked them into finished paintings in the studio. He was present when this ship was towed and made some sketches of it. However, he appears to have used some license in the finished painting, which has taken on symbolic meaning.
The composition of this painting is unusual in that the most significant object, the old warship, is positioned well to the left of the painting, where it rises in stately splendour and almost ghostlike colours against a triangle of blue sky and rising mist that throws it into relief. The beauty of the old ship is in stark contrast to the dirty blackened tugboat with its tall smokestack, which scurries across the still surface of the river "like a water beetle".
Turner has used the triangle of blue to frame a second triangle of masted ships, which progressively decrease in size as they become more distant. Temeraire and tugboat have passed a small river craft with its gaff-rigged sail barely catching a breeze. Beyond this a square-rigger drifts, with every bit of sail extended. Another small craft shows as a patch of white further down the river. In the far distance, beyond the second tugboat which makes its way towards them, a three-masted ship rides at anchor.
On the opposite side of the painting to Temeraire, and exactly the same distance from the frame as the ship's main mast, the sun sets above the estuary, its rays extending into the clouds above it, and across the surface of the water. The flaming red of the clouds is reflected in the river. It exactly repeats the colour of the smoke which pours from the funnel of the tugboat. The sun setting symbolises the end of an epoch in British Naval history. (Venning, 2003)
Behind Temeraire, a gleaming sliver of the waxing moon casts a silvery beam across the ocean, symbolising the commencement of the new, industrial era.
This painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1844, though it may have been painted earlier.
The Great Western Railway (GWR) was one of a number of private British railway companies created to develop the new means of transport. GWR’s aim was initially to connect Bristol with London; its chief engineer was Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The location of the painting is widely accepted as Maidenhead Railway Bridge, across the River Thames between Taplow and Maidenhead. The view is looking east towards London. The bridge was designed by Brunel and completed in 1838. The line from London Paddington to Taplow opened in 1838.
The painting is now in the collection of the National Gallery, London, England.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
In 2006, Joseph Mallord William Turner's painting of Venice has become the most expensive British painting to be sold at auction. The work titled "Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio", sold at Christies in New York for $35.8 million (£20.5 million), breaking the previous record for a British painting by almost $15 million. JMW Turner broke his own auction record by about $25 million, with his "Seascape" painting selling for $10 million back in 1984.
Turner's vision of Venice sells for £20m to become most expensive British painting
Nicholas Hall, Christie's international director for old masters, who took the buyer's bids, said: "This is a great painting. It's an incredibly rare painting and it fully deserved to make this record for the artist which is more than three times the previous amount ever achieved by a Turner at auction. "In my personal view, Turner is the greatest of all British artists. This was a perfectly preserved example of his work and an absolutely beautiful composition."
(The Independent at Art News Home)

Giudecca, la Donna della Salute and San Georgio
Oil on canvas, 1841
24 x 36 inches (61 x 91.5 cm)
Public collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

The Grand Canal, Venice
Oil on canvas
Public collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Venice, Looking East from the Guidecca: Sunrise
Watercolor on paper, 1819
8 5/8 x 11 inches (22 x 28 cm)
British Museum, London
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Campo Santo, Venice
Watercolor on paper
Public collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Venice, San Guirgio from the Dogana: Sunrise
Watercolor on paper, 1819
8 5/8 x 11 inches (22 x 28 cm)
British Museum, London
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Another painting by JMW Turner has sold at auction for Ј5.832m - a record for a British watercolour.
The Blue Rigi was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder after a 10-minute bidding battle at Christie's in London.
The work, which Christie's described as "the most important watercolour to appear at auction for over 50 years", had been expected to fetch about Ј2m.
It features Lake Lucerne and the Rigi Mountain, in Switzerland, at sunrise, and was painted in 1842. The Blue Rigi was bought in 1842 by its first owner for 80 guineas.
It was one of four watercolours Turner produced on his return from a trip to Switzerland the same year.
The 19th Century art critic John Ruskin said of the work: "Turner had never made any drawings like this before and never made any like them again."
It was last sold in 1942 for 1,500 guineas to the family of the owner who sold it on Monday, 5th June 2006.

The Blue Rigi: Lake of Lucerne - Sunrise
Watercolor on paper, 1842
11 5/8 x 17 5/8 inches (29.7 x 45 cm)
Public collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

The main provisions of Turner's will were two, (1) that his personal property, valued at nearly 140,000 pounds at his death, should be sold to provide a charitable institution for "Poor and Decayed Male Artists born in England and of English Parents only and lawful issue", and (2) that his pictures, sketches and drawing remaining in his studio should be bequeathed to the nation, to be kept together in a special gallery built for the purpose.
The first provision was frustrated by his next-of-kin (to whom he wished to leave nothing) on a legal technicality: they were enabled to inherit the entire property themselves. The gallery for the pictures was never built; but after a delay of almost ten years the National Gallery, London, was given charge of the whole collection (the "Turner Bequest"). This amounted in all to over a hundred finished pictures, some 250 unfinished pictures and oil sketches, and over 19,000 watercolours and drawings. According to the present arrangements, a small selection of the pictures is kept and exhibited at the National Gallery; the Tate Gallery holds, and exhibits a large proportion of, the remaining works in oil; the Britsh Museum retains the watercolours and drawings.
(Taken from the book, "Turner" by Michael Kitson, 1964 at Ellen's Place)

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