Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Art & History Feature - J. M. W. Turner

The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up

J.M.W. Turner - Joseph Mallord William Turner - was a preeminent British Romantic painter of oil and watercolor landscapes. He is well known for bringing the art of landscape to the level of epic proportions. His use of light and color is spectacular and his style is a forerunner to Impressionism.

Self Portrait c. 1799
Born in 1775 in London into the family of a barber and a daughter of butchers, he showed early artistic inclinations with his sketch drawings of countryside, where he stayed with his maternal uncle. His father encouraged his talent and proudly displayed the drawings in his shop window, even selling them for a few coins. Turner's early exercises were focused on mastering perspective and included many architectural structures. In 1790, at the age of 15, he entered the Royal Academy of Arts.

St Erasmus In Bishop Islips Chapel Westminster Abbey

A Storm on the Lagoon of Venice

In the following years, Turner traveled extensively all over Europe and studied at the Louvre in 1802. As he became older, the artist became more and more eccentric with few close friends. It is interesting to note that his father, who stayed with him for 30 years, was one of his closest friends and eventually an assistant. Turner was struggling with bouts of depression after his father passed away. He never married. He did have a relationship with a widow, older than himself, by the name of Sarah Danbury. She had two daughters by him.

Rouen Cathedral
He died in December of 1851. The words "the sun is God" are attributed to him as said right before he died. Turner was very successful and prolific during his lifetime. He left over 19,000 watercolors, drawings and oils to Britain.

A First Rate Taking in Stores
Fishermen at Sea

Dawn in Northam Castle



  1. So beautiful, especially that last one of Venice.

  2. Amazing paintings. I didn't know much about Turner's life, so this was an interesting post.

    1. I'm glad you found this interesting. I have seen his paintings before but this was the first time I learned about his life myself.


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