Thursday, October 6, 2011

Joseph Mallord William Turner

>> I cant seem to make the pictures fit in here, the links to the pictures themselves are placed below the pictures<<

Joseph Mallord William Turner was born on April 23, 1775. He was best known for his romantic oil paintings, but was also considered a master at watercolor, regarded as one of the founders of English watercolor landscape paintings. His early life was difficult. His mother was mentally unstable, and he was soon sent to live with his uncle in 1785 in a small town west of London. He then became interested in paintings, creating numerous drawings over the course of his childhood, and in 1789, when he was only 14, he entered the Royal Academy of Art schools. At the age of 15, he received the rare honor of having one of his art exhibited at the Academy. At the age of 18, he owned his own studio, and paint sellers clamored to buy his paintings. He passed away on December 19, 1851, and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

During the course of his career, Joseph Turner painted an innumerous number of phenomenal pieces. After becoming a full member of the Royal Academy at the young age of 27, he began to travel widely around Europe. As he traveled, he took care to study both the effects of the sea as well as the atmosphere in all kinds of weather. With this knowledge in hand, he created landscapes with brilliant color and light, infused with his romantic feelings. Venice, which he visited frequently, had not only a delicate landscape but also fine weather, leading him to some of his greatest works. The subjects of his drawings mostly focus on nature, but he would also add human elements, showing both his affection for humanity as well as their vulnerability in comparison to nature. He liked to experience most of the nature of his works in real life, if possible; for example, it is said that he rushed to witness the burning of Paliament in 1834 first-hand, which became the subject of one of his watercolor sketches soon afterwards. His style is based in using oils ever so transparently to create a veil of shimmering colors that seemingly emit a pulse of “pure light.” However, he had few close friends and mostly painted in isolation. To prepare for his drawings, he would take meticulous notes such as the shapes of clouds or simply examine the scenerary for as much as two days before reaching an epiphany and begin drawing.

The reason I chose this artist was because of his stunning depictions of nature, which ranged from a serene mother watching over its children on Earth to a deranged Viking manifested in chaos, sometimes with both depictions in the same drawing. I also marvel at his ability to “capture” light in his drawings, which he creates using only brilliant color. His drawings are simply marvels to behold, existing in the fine line between romanticism and realism.

Wreckers Coast of Northumberland,

File:Wreckers Coast of Northumberland Joseph Mallord William Turner.jpeg

On the left of the picture above is the sereneness of nature, with light blessing the castle standing in the background. However, turning to the right, the darkness of a storm threatens to engulf the people clamoring to pull something away from the raging sea. We notice that in both sides, there is a play with “light.” The left seemingly feels to be abound with it, while the right seemingly devoid. At the same time, although the top seems to display the indistinctiveness of nature, looking below we see detailed depictions of human elements such as the people as well as the boat and the castle in the background. We note the theme of vulnerability of the humans struggling to escape into the right, the serene, peaceful part of the painting.

The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons

In this drawing, we notice how the fire seems to glow, as if it was really burning in the painting. Not only that, we are again presented with the vulnerability of man, shown by the manmade bridge and by the powerless spectators watching from the foreground of the painting. The sky is blurred by wispy smoke, and the lake reflects both the serene sky as well as the blazing fire. The brush strokes are long and smooth, creating the clear sky as well as the detailed (but indistinct) spectators.

Norham Castle, Sunrise

This painting shows more of Joseph Turner’s indistinctness in his paintings. Although the images are blurred, the atmosphere still remains extremely realistic. Also, the painting is surprisingly detailed despite its blurred appearance. For example, the deer in the mid-ground as well as the seemingly blurred atmosphere itself. The colors in the sky vary sublimely, and the deer is strikingly detailed despite being small.


Wilkinson, Gerald. The sketches of Turner, R.A: 1802-20: genius of the Romantic. London, England: Barrie & Jenkins, 1974. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment