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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner (born in Covent Garden, London on April 23, 1775 (exact date disputed), died December 19, 1851) was an English Romantic landscape artist, whose style can be said to lay the foundations for Impressionism.
Life and career
His father, William Turner, was a wig-maker who later became a barber. His mother, Mary Marshall, a housewife, became increasingly mentally unstable during his early years, perhaps in part due to the early death of Turner's younger sister in 1786. She died in 1804, having been committed to a mental asylum.
Possibly due to the load placed on the family by these problems, the young Turner was sent in 1785 to stay with his uncle on his mother's side in Brentford, which was then a small town west of London on the banks of the Thames. It was here that he first expressed an interest in painting. A year later he went to school in Margate in Kent to the east of London in the area of the Thames estuary. At this time he had been creating many paintings, which his father exhibited in his shop window.
He was accepted into the Royal Academy of Art when he was only 15 years old. Turner was interested in being a part of the Royal Academy of Art unlike some of his contemporaries. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to keep to painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick (junior). Sir Joshua Reynolds, the president of the Royal Academy at that time, chaired the panel that admitted him. A watercolour of his was accepted for the Summer Exhibition of 1790 after only one year's study. He exhibited his first oil painting in 1796. Throughout the rest of his life, he regularly exhibited at the academy.
The fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up,
He is commonly known as "the painter of light". Although renowned for his oils, Turner is also regarded as one of the founders of English watercolour landscape painting.
One of his most famous oil paintings is The fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, painted in 1839, which hangs in the National Gallery, London. See also The Golden Bough.
Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year. He also made many visits to Venice during his lifetime. He never married, although he had a mistress, Sarah Danby, by whom he had two daughters.
As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. He had few close friends, except for his father, who lived with him for thirty years, eventually working as his studio assistant. His father died in 1829, which had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression.
Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway painted (1844).
He died in his house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea on 19 December 1851. At his request he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.
Turner's talent was recognized early in his life, becoming a full art academician at the age of 23. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate and create paintings that astonished many. According to David Piper's The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called "fantastic puzzles." However, Turner was still recognized as an artistic genius: influential English art critic John Ruskin described Turner as the artist who could most "stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature." (Piper 321)
Turner is a romantic painter interested in the Sublime; he portrays the awesome, untamed power of Nature towards mankind. The subject of shipwrecks, fires or natural catastrophes as well as natural phenomena (like sunlight, storm, rain, fog) is a statement of the smallness of mankind towards Nature. In his paintings humans are depicted as mere peons of Nature. Like most Romanticists, Nature (landscape) is a reflection of the own?s soul or mood. He focused on the violent power of the sea, as seen in Dawn after the Wreck (1840) and The Slave-Ship (1840).
His first works, such as Tintern Abbey (1795) and Venice: S. Giorgio Maggiore (1819), stayed true to the traditions of English landscape. However, in Hannibal Crossing the Alps (1812), his emphasis on the destructive power of nature had already come into play. Turner perfected his technique to develop the theme through his years. His distinctive style of painting, in which he used watercolor technique with oil paints, created lightness, fluency, and disappearing atmospheric effects. (Piper 321)
In his late years, he used oils even less, and turned to almost pure light with shimmering color. Examples of his later style can be seen in Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway, where the objects are barely recognizable.
Turner, along with John Constable, was at the forefront of English painting by his later years, and both were popular in France as well. Impressionists carefully studied his techniques, although they sought to diminish the power of his paintings. In the modern art era, advocates of abstract art were also influenced by Turner.
Turner left a large fortune which he hoped would be used to support what he called "decayed artists". His collection of finished paintings was bequeathed to the British nation, and he intended that a special gallery would be built to house them. This did not come to pass owing to a failure to agree where to site it and then to the parsimony of British governments. Twenty two years after his death, the British Parliament passed an Act allowing his paintings to be lent to museums outside London, and so began the process of scattering his pictures, which Turner had wanted to be kept together. A prestigious annual art award, the Turner Prize, created in 1984, was named in Turner's honour, but has become increasingly controversial, having promoted art which has no apparent connection with Turner's.
A major exhibition, "Turner's Britain" , with material, (including The Fighting Temeraire) on loan from around the globe, was held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 7 November 2003 to 8 February 2004.
In 2005 Turner's The Fighting Temeraire was voted Britain's "greatest painting" in a public poll organized by the BBC.
" 1799 - Warkworth Castle, Northumberland - Thunder Storm Approaching at Sun-Set, oil on canvas - Victoria and Albert Museum, London
" 1806 - The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, oil on canvas - Tate Gallery, London
" 1812 - Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps, oil on canvas, Tate Gallery, London
" 1822 - The Battle of Trafalgar, oil on canvas, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
" 1835 - The Burning of the Houses of Lordsand Commons, oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
" 1835 - The Grand Canal, Venice, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
" 1838 - The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken up, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London
" 1840 - Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On), oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
" 1842 - Fishing Boats with Hucksters Bargaining for Fish, oil on canvas, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
" 1844 - Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London