Friday, February 17, 2017

J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851)

Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English Romanticist who painted landscapes. His work is smooth and inviting, and he uses light to draw the eye in. He was born in late April of 1775, and moved to Brentwood to live with his maternal uncle when his mother was admitted to Bethlem Hospital for mental illness. This is when he first began to produce art, mainly simple colorings of engraved plates, first adventuring into landscapes when he moved to Margate and drew the town there. His father began to sell his art in his shop for a few shillings per drawing. Throughout the first half of his life, he worked for many architects and was accepted into the Royal Academy of Art when he was 14 years old. The architect Thomas Hardwick advised Turner to continue practicing his painting when he began to show interest in architectural art. He started off working with mainly watercolors, and was well recognized at the academy for his landscapes and architectural work. Fishermen at the Sea was his first oil painting in 1796. 

This painting helped make Turner famous, both for his oil painting and for his rendition of maritime scenes. Afterwards, he traveled Europe, studying the Louvre and France and Switzerland. Turner became well known for his work, but had few friends and became rather eccentric. He passed away in 1851 and was buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
            Turner’s style uses a chromatic palate and large washes of paint. He was recognized as an artistic genius. He studied water, fire, sea, storms, shipwrecks, and light. The Turner Museum in Sarasota, Florida, is dedicated to his printmaking, which also featured nature. He examined humanity and its merry-making but contrasted that to dangers and downfalls, as seen in his work involving shipwrecks. He became obsessed with using light to create his paintings, and how it played on water or in fire, and his style became impressionistic in his later years.

A sketch done before a final painting shows Turner’s quick but sure hand as he placed objects on the page. I enjoy his style and the asymmetrical composition of his work.

Turner’s rendition of the reclining figure, with smooth flowing line and soft shading, creating an open and inviting image.

Calais Pier, with French Poissards Preparing for Sea, an English Packeet Arriving shows his work with water and ships. He completed this piece in 1803. I particularly like this piece because of the details of the waves and of the light caught in the sail. It has a sort of motion to it that makes it seem as if you are there at the scene taking a photo of the ship arriving, and can hear the waves, seagulls, and commotion.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland is one of my favorites that I have found of Turner’s, painted in 1829. I am captivated by the bright white circle of the sun and the subtle rays emanating from it. The castle in the distance is nearly the same color as the sky, and yet it stands out, along with the details he included on the bridge. My favorite part of this piece, however, is the family of deer in the bottom left corner. They add an innocence and beauty to an otherwise monotone image. It is soft, welcoming, and every inch holds new surprise details.

Turner’s work drew my attention because I tend to try to paint everything perfectly when I do paint, and it is hard for me to loosen up and use large washes of soft, nondescript color as he does. It is something I have always admired in paintings, and I would love to strive to adopt some of Turner’s techniques, such as his attention to light, color, and composition, and the subtle details he includes in his work that makes it open and inviting, while still retaining an often muted color palette. 

Works Cited
Moyle, Franny. Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner. N.p.: Penguin Group USA, 2016. Print. 17 Feb. 2017.
"Calais Pier." Joseph Mallord William Turner | Calais Pier | NG472 | National Gallery, London. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
Tate. "”Alnwick Castle, Northumberland", Joseph Mallord William Turner C.1829." Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
Tate. "”Fishermen at Sea,” Joseph Mallord William Turner Exhibited 1796." Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
Tate. "”Reclining Female Nude” Joseph Mallord William Turner Exhibited 1809." Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
Tate. "”Sketch for ‘Dido Building Carthage’” Joseph Mallord William Turner Exhibited 1805." Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

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