J. M. W. Turner
Overview
 
Joseph Mallord William Turner RA
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 (23 April 1775 – 19 December 1851) was an English Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 landscape painter
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

, watercolourist and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting
History painting
History painting is a genre in painting defined by subject matter rather than an artistic style, depicting a moment in a narrative story, rather than a static subject such as a portrait...

. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting.
Encyclopedia
Joseph Mallord William Turner RA
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 (23 April 1775 – 19 December 1851) was an English Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 landscape painter
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

, watercolourist and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting
History painting
History painting is a genre in painting defined by subject matter rather than an artistic style, depicting a moment in a narrative story, rather than a static subject such as a portrait...

. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light" and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

.

Early Life

Joseph Mallord William Turner was born on or around the 23 April 1775 in Maiden Lane
Maiden Lane Historic District
The Maiden Lane Historic District is a neighborhood located in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2006, the district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.-External Links:* , Raleigh Historic Districts Commission...

, Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

, London, England. His father, William Turner (1738–7 August 1829), was a barber and wig maker, His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of butchers. A younger sister, Mary Ann Turner, was born in September 1778 but died aged four in August 1783.

In 1785, as a result of a "fit of illness" in the family the young Turner was sent to stay with his maternal uncle, Joseph Mallord William Marshall, in Brentford
Brentford
Brentford is a suburban town in west London, England, and part of the London Borough of Hounslow. It is located at the confluence of the River Thames and the River Brent, west-southwest of Charing Cross. Its former ceremonial county was Middlesex.-Toponymy:...

, which was then a small town west of London on the banks of the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

. From this period, the earliest know artistic exercise by turner is found, a series of simple colourings of engraved plates from Henry Boswell's Picturesque Vies of the Antiquities of England and Wales. Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate
Margate
-Demography:As of the 2001 UK census, Margate had a population of 40,386.The ethnicity of the town was 97.1% white, 1.0% mixed race, 0.5% black, 0.8% Asian, 0.6% Chinese or other ethnicity....

 on the north-east Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 coast. Here turner produced a series of early drawings of the town and surrounding area foreshadowing his later work. Turner would return to Margate many times in later life.
By this time, Turner's drawings were already being exhibited in his father's shop window and sold for a few shillings each. His father boasted to the artist Thomas Stothard
Thomas Stothard
Thomas Stothard was an English painter, illustrator and engraver.-Life and work:Stothard was born in London, the son of a well-to-do innkeeper in Long Acre, London. A delicate child, he was sent at the age of five to a relative in Yorkshire, and attended school at Acomb, and afterwards at...

 that: "My son, sir, is going to be a painter". In 1789 Turner again stayed with his uncle, who by this time had retired to Sunningwell
Sunningwell
Sunningwell is a village and civil parish about south of Oxford, England. The parish includes the village of Bayworth and the eastern part of Boars Hill...

 in Oxford. A whole sketchbook of work from his time in Oxford survives, as well as an early watercolour of Oxford. The use of pencil sketches on location as a basis for later finished paintings would form the basis of Turner's essential working style for his whole career.

Many of the early sketches by Turner were studies of Architecture and/or exercises in perspective and it is known that the young Turner worked for several architects including Thomas Hardwick (junior)
Thomas Hardwick
Thomas Hardwick was a British architect and a founding member of the Architect's Club in 1791.-Early life and career :Hardwick was born in Brentford, the son of a master mason turned architect also named Thomas Hardwick Thomas Hardwick (1752–1829) was a British architect and a founding...

, James Wyatt
James Wyatt
James Wyatt RA , was an English architect, a rival of Robert Adam in the neoclassical style, who far outdid Adam in his work in the neo-Gothic style.-Early classical career:...

 and Bonomi the Elder. By the end of 1789 he had also begun to study under the topographical draughtsman Thomas Malton, whom Turner would later call "My real master".
He entered the Royal Academy of Art
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 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, 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)
Thomas Hardwick
Thomas Hardwick was a British architect and a founding member of the Architect's Club in 1791.-Early life and career :Hardwick was born in Brentford, the son of a master mason turned architect also named Thomas Hardwick Thomas Hardwick (1752–1829) was a British architect and a founding...

. His first watercolour A View of the Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth was accepted for the Summer Exhibition
Royal Academy summer exhibition
The Summer Exhibition is an open art exhibition held annually by the Royal Academy in Burlington House, Piccadilly in central London, England, during the summer months of June, July, and August...

 of 1790 when turner was only 15.

As a probationer in the Academy, he was taught drawing (not painting) from plaster casts of antique sculptures and his name appears in the registry of the Academy over a hundred times from July 1790 to October 1793. In June 1792 he was admitted to the life class to learn to draw the human body from nude models..Turner continued to exhibit watercolours each year at the Academy - travelling in the summer and painting in the winter. He travelled widely throughout Britain, particularly to Wales, and produced a wide range of sketches for working up into studies and watercolours. These particularly focused on architectural work, which utilised his skills as a draughtsman. In 1793, he showed a watercolour with the title The Rising Squall - Hot Wells from St Vincent's Rock Bristol (now lost) that foreshadowed his later climatic effects. Cunningham in his obituary of Turner wrote that it was: "recognised by the wiser few as a nobel attempt at lift in landscape art out of the tame insipidities...[and] evinced for the fist time that mastery of effect for which he is now justly celebrated."

Turner exhibited his first oil painting
Oil painting
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil—especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Often an oil such as linseed was boiled with a resin such as pine resin or even frankincense; these were called 'varnishes' and were prized for their body...

 at the Academy in 1796, Fishermen at Sea. A nocturnal moonlit scene, the image of boats in peril contrasts the cold light of the moon with the firelight glow of the fishermen's lantern. Wilton has said that the image: "Is a summary of all that had been said about the sea by the artists of the eighteenth century." and shows strong influenced by artists such as Horace Vernet
Horace Vernet
Émile Jean-Horace Vernet was a French painter of battles, portraits, and Orientalist Arab subjects.Vernet was born to Carle Vernet, another famous painter, who was himself a son of Claude Joseph Vernet. He was born in the Paris Louvre, while his parents were staying there during the French...

 Philip James de Loutherbourg
Philip James de Loutherbourg
Philip James de Loutherbourg, also seen as Philippe-Jacques and Philipp Jakob and with the appellation the Younger was an English artist of German origin who became known for his elaborate set designs for London theatres.-Early life:He was born in Strasbourg, where his father, the representative...

 and Willem van de Velde the Younger
Willem van de Velde the Younger
Willem van de Velde the Younger was a Dutch marine painter.-Biography:Willem van de Velde was baptised on 18 December 1633 in Leiden, Holland, Dutch Republic....

. The image was praised by contemporary critics and would found Turner's reputation, both as an oil painter and as a painter of maritime scenes.

Early Career

Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 in Paris in the same year. He also made many visits to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. On a visit to Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis is a coastal town in West Dorset, England, situated 25 miles west of Dorchester and east of Exeter. The town lies in Lyme Bay, on the English Channel coast at the Dorset-Devon border...

, in Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

, England, he painted a stormy scene (now in the Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the United States. Founded in 1881, it was the first purpose-built art museum west of the Alleghenies. Its collection of over 60,000 works make it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Midwest.Museum founders debated locating...

).

Important support for his work also came from Walter Ramsden Fawkes
Walter Fawkes
Walter Ramsden Hawkesworth Fawkes was a Yorkshire landowner, writer and Member of Parliament for Yorkshire from 1806 to 1807.-Biography:...

, of Farnley Hall
Farnley Hall (North Yorkshire)
Farnley Hall is a stately home in Farnley, North Yorkshire, England. It is located near Otley. The original early seventeenth century house was added to in the 1780s by John Carr, who also designed Harewood House...

, near Otley
Otley
-Transport:The main roads through the town are the A660 to the south east, which connects Otley to Bramhope, Adel and Leeds city centre, and the A65 to the west, which goes to Ilkley and Skipton. The A6038 heads to Guiseley, Shipley and Bradford, connecting with the A65...

 in Yorkshire, who became a close friend of the artist. Turner first visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolours of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned to it throughout his career. The stormy backdrop of Hannibal Crossing The Alps is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over Otley's Chevin
The Chevin
The Chevin is the name given to the ridge on the south side of Wharfedale in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, overlooking the market town of Otley.-History and features:...

 while Turner was staying at Farnley Hall.

Turner was also a frequent guest of George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont at Petworth House
Petworth House
Petworth House in Petworth, West Sussex, England, is a late 17th-century mansion, rebuilt in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and altered in the 1870s by Anthony Salvin...

 in West Sussex
West Sussex
West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering onto East Sussex , Hampshire and Surrey. The county of Sussex has been divided into East and West since the 12th century, and obtained separate county councils in 1888, but it remained a single ceremonial county until 1974 and the coming...

 and painted scenes that Egremont funded taken from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside, including a view of the Chichester Canal
Chichester Canal
The Chichester Canal is a navigable canal in England. It runs from the sea at Birdham Chichester Harbour to Chichester through two locks. The canal was opened in 1822 having taken three years to build. When completed the canal could take ships of up to 100 tons...

. Petworth House still displays a number of paintings.

Personal life

As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for 30 years, eventually working as his studio assistant. His father's death in 1829 had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

. He never married but had a relationship with an older widow, Sarah Danby. He is believed to have been the father of her two daughters born in 1801 and 1811.

Death

He died in the house of his mistress
Mistress (lover)
A mistress is a long-term female lover and companion who is not married to her partner; the term is used especially when her partner is married. The relationship generally is stable and at least semi-permanent; however, the couple does not live together openly. Also the relationship is usually,...

 Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk
Cheyne Walk
Cheyne Walk , is a historic street in Chelsea, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It takes its name from William Lord Cheyne who owned the manor of Chelsea until 1712. Most of the houses were built in the early 18th century. Before the construction in the 19th century of the busy...

, Chelsea on 19 December 1851. He is said to have uttered the last words "The sun is God" before expiring. At his request he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. St Paul's sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the mother...

, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.

The architect Philip Hardwick
Philip Hardwick
Philip Hardwick was an eminent English architect, particularly associated with railway stations and warehouses in London and elsewhere...

 (1792–1870) who was a friend of Turner's and also the son of the artist's tutor, Thomas Hardwick
Thomas Hardwick
Thomas Hardwick was a British architect and a founding member of the Architect's Club in 1791.-Early life and career :Hardwick was born in Brentford, the son of a master mason turned architect also named Thomas Hardwick Thomas Hardwick (1752–1829) was a British architect and a founding...

, was in charge of making his funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 arrangements and wrote to those who knew Turner to tell them at the time of his death that, "I must inform you, we have lost him." Other active executors were his cousin and executor, and chief mourner at the funeral, Henry Harpur IV (benefactor of Westminster - now Chelsea & Westminster - Hospital), Revd. Henry Scott Trimmer, George Jones RA and Charles Turner ARA.

Art

Style

Turner's talent was recognised early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterised by a chromatic palette and broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint. According to David Piper's The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called "fantastic puzzles." However, Turner was still recognised as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

 described Turner as the artist who could most "stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature." (Piper 321)

Suitable vehicles for Turner's imagination were to be found in the subjects of shipwrecks, fires (such as the burning of Parliament
Burning of Parliament
Burning of Parliament is the popular name for the fire which destroyed the Palace of Westminster, the home of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, on 16 October 1834...

 in 1834, an event which Turner rushed to witness first-hand, and which he transcribed in a series of watercolour sketches), natural catastrophes, and natural phenomena such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He was fascinated by the violent power of the sea, as seen in Dawn after the Wreck (1840) and The Slave Ship
The Slave Ship (painting)
"The Slave Ship" or "Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon coming on" is a painting by the British artist J. M. W...

 (1840).

Turner's major venture into printmaking was the Liber Studiorum (Book of Studies), a set of seventy prints that the artist worked on from 1806 to 1819. The Liber Studiorum was an expression of his intentions for landscape art. Loosely based on Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French Claude Gellée, , dit le Lorrain) Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French...

's Liber Veritatis (Book of Truth), the plates were meant to be widely disseminated, and categorised the genre into six types: Marine, Mountainous, Pastoral, Historical, Architectural, and Elevated or Epic Pastoral.
His printmaking was a major part of his output, and a whole museum is devoted to it, the Turner Museum in Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. It is south of the Tampa Bay Area and north of Fort Myers...

, founded in 1974 by Douglass Montrose-Graem to house his collection of Turner prints.

Turner placed human beings in many of his paintings to indicate his affection for humanity on the one hand (note the frequent scenes of people drinking and merry-making or working in the foreground), but its vulnerability and vulgarity amid the 'sublime' nature of the world on the other hand. 'Sublime' here means awe-inspiring, savage grandeur, a natural world unmastered by man, evidence of the power of God–a theme that artists and poets were exploring in this period. The significance of light was to Turner the emanation of God's spirit and this was why he refined the subject matter of his later paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, concentrating on the play of light on water, the radiance of skies and fires. Although these late paintings appear to be 'impressionistic' and therefore a forerunner of the French school, Turner was striving for expression of spirituality in the world, rather than responding primarily to optical phenomena.
His early works, such as Tintern Abbey (1795), stayed true to the traditions of English landscape. However, 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.

One popular story about Turner, though it likely has little basis in reality, states that he even had himself "tied to the mast of a ship in order to experience the drama" of the elements during a storm at sea.

In his later years he used oils ever more transparently, and turned to an evocation of almost pure light by use of shimmering colour. A prime example of his mature style can be seen in Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway
Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway
Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway is an oil painting by the 19th century British painter J. M. W. Turner.This painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1844, though it may have been painted earlier....

, where the objects are barely recognizable. The intensity of hue and interest in evanescent light not only placed Turner's work in the vanguard of English painting, but later exerted an influence upon art in France, as well; the Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

, carefully studied his techniques.

High levels of ash in the atmosphere during 1816 the "Year Without a Summer
Year Without a Summer
The Year Without a Summer was 1816, in which severe summer climate abnormalities caused average global temperatures to decrease by about 0.4–0.7 °C , resulting in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere...

", led to unusually spectacular sunsets during this period, and were an inspiration for some of Turner's work.

John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

 says in his "Notes" on Turner in March 1878, that an early patron, Dr Thomas Monro, the Principal Physician of Bedlam
Bethlem Royal Hospital
The Bethlem Royal Hospital is a psychiatric hospital located in London, United Kingdom and part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Although no longer based at its original location, it is recognised as the world's first and oldest institution to specialise in mental illnesses....

, was a significant influence on Turner's style:
His true master was Dr Monro; to the practical teaching of that first patron and the wise simplicity of method of watercolour study, in which he was disciplined by him and companioned by Giston, the healthy and constant development of the greater power is primarily to be attributed; the greatness of the power itself, it is impossible to over-estimate.


On one of his trips to Europe, circa 1820, he met the Irish physician Robert James Graves
Robert James Graves
Robert James Graves, M.D., F.R.C.S. was an eminent Irish surgeon after whom Graves' disease takes its name. He was President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the founder of the Dublin Journal of Medical Science...

. Graves was travelling in a Diligence in the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 when a man who looked like the mate of a ship got in, sat beside him, and soon took from his pocket a note-book across which his hand from time to time passed with the rapidity of lightning. Graves wondered if the man was insane, he looked, saw that the stranger had been noting the forms of clouds as they passed and that he was no common artist. The two travelled and sketched together for months. Graves tells that Turner would outline a scene, sit doing nothing for two or three days, then suddenly, "perhaps on the third day, he would exclaim 'there it is', and seizing his colours work rapidly till he had noted down the peculiar effect he wished to fix in his memory."
The first American to buy a Turner painting was James Lenox
James Lenox
James Lenox was an American bibliophile and philanthropist. His collection of paintings and books eventually became known as the Lenox Library and later became part of the New York Public Library in 1895.-Biography:...

 of New York City, a private collector. Lenox wished to own a Turner and in 1845 bought one unseen through an intermediary, his friend C. R. Leslie. From among the paintings Turner had on hand and was willing to sell for £500, Leslie selected and shipped the 1832 atmospheric seascape Staffa, Fingal's Cave. Worried about the painting's reception by Lenox, who knew Turner's work only through his etchings, Leslie wrote Lenox that the quality of Staffa, "a most poetic picture of a steam boat" would become apparent in time. Upon receiving the painting Lenox was baffled, and "greatly disappointed" by what he called the painting's "indistinctness". When Leslie was forced to relay this opinion to Turner, Turner said "You should tell Mr. Lenox
James Lenox
James Lenox was an American bibliophile and philanthropist. His collection of paintings and books eventually became known as the Lenox Library and later became part of the New York Public Library in 1895.-Biography:...

 that indistinctness is my forte." Staffa, Fingal's Cave is currently owned by the Yale Center for British Art
Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Center for British Art is an art museum in New Haven, Connecticut at Yale University which houses the most comprehensive collection of British Art outside the United Kingdom...

, New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

.

Legacy

Turner left a small fortune which he hoped would be used to support what he called "decayed artists". He planned and designed an almshouse for them at Twickenham with a gallery for some of his works. His will was contested and in 1856, after a court battle, part of his fortune was awarded to his first cousins including Thomas Price Turner
Thomas Price Turner
Thomas Price Turner born approx 1790, was one of JMW Turner's first cousins. Following the artist's death in 1851, Thomas Price Turner was one of a group of interested parties who contested JMW Turner's will...

. Another portion of the money went to the Royal Academy of Arts, which occasionally awards students the Turner Medal. 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 on a site, 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 the pictures which Turner had wanted to be kept together. In 1910 the main part of the Turner Bequest, which includes unfinished paintings and drawings, was rehoused in the Duveen Turner Wing at the Tate Gallery
Tate Britain
Tate Britain is an art gallery situated on Millbank in London, and part of the Tate gallery network in Britain, with Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. It is the oldest gallery in the network, opening in 1897. It houses a substantial collection of the works of J. M. W. Turner.-History:It...

. In 1987 a new wing of the Tate, the Clore Gallery, was opened specifically to house the Turner bequest, though some of the most important paintings in it remain in the National Gallery in contravention of Turner's condition that the finished pictures be kept and shown together. Increasingly paintings are lent abroad, ignoring Turner's provision that they be kept "constantly" in Turner's Gallery.
After the Turner content was diminished and diluted in the Clore Gallery from c. 2002, in 2010-12 only two of the nine rooms on the main floor were devoted to Turner. The claim that the Tate was fulfilling Turner's wishes was dropped in 1995, when the Charity Commission said that the Turner Bequest had been free of Turner's conditions. This was challenged by Leolin Price QC.

A commemorative stained glass window was added to St. Mary's Church, Battersea between 1976 and 1982. There are statues representing him at St Paul's Cathedral, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy of Arts and Victoria & Albert Museum. A portrait drawing by Cornelius Varley with his patent graphic telescope (Sheffield Museums & Galleries) was compared with his death mask (National Portrait Gallery, London) by Kelly Freeman at Dundee University 2009-10 to ascertain whether it really depicts Turner (www.faceofturner.com).

The Turner Society was founded by Selby Whittingham at London and Manchester in 1975. After that endorsed the Tate Gallery's Clore Gallery wing as the solution (on the lines of the Duveen wing of 1910), to the controversy of what should be done with the Turner Bequest, Selby Whittingham resigned from that and founded the Independent Turner Society.

A prestigious annual art award, the Turner Prize
Turner Prize
The Turner Prize, named after the painter J. M. W. Turner, is an annual prize presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50. Awarding the prize is organised by the Tate gallery and staged at Tate Britain. Since its beginnings in 1984 it has become the United Kingdom's most publicised...

, created in 1984, was named in Turner's honour, and twenty years later the Winsor & Newton Turner Watercolour Award was founded.

A major exhibition, "Turner's Britain", with material (including The Fighting Temeraire
The Fighting Temeraire
The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1838 is an oil painting executed in 1839 by the English artist J. M. W. Turner...

) on loan from around the globe, was held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a museum and art gallery in Birmingham, England.Entrance to the Museum and Art Gallery is free, but some major exhibitions in the Gas Hall incur an entrance fee...

 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 organised by the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

.

In October 2005 Professor Harold V. Livermore (1914-2010), its owner for 60 years, gave Sandycombe Lodge, the villa at Twickenham which Turner designed and built for himself, to the Sandycombe Lodge Trust to be preserved as a monument to the artist. In 2006 he additionally gave some land to the Trust which had been part of Turner's domaine. The organisation The Friends of Turner's House was formed in 2004 to support it.

In April 2006, Christie's
Christie's
Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

 New York auctioned Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio, a view of Venice exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841, for US$35.8 million, setting a new record for a Turner. The New York Times stated that according to two sources who had requested anonymity the buyer was casino magnate Stephen Wynn.

In 2006, Turner's Glaucus and Scylla (1840) was returned by Kimbell Art Museum
Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, hosts a small but excellent art collection as well as traveling art exhibitions, educational programs and an extensive research library. Its initial artwork came from the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell, who also provided funds for a new...

 to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffe after a Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 Claim was made. The painting was repurchased by the Kimbell for $5.7 million at a sale by Christie's
Christie's
Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

 in April 2007.

Between 1 October 2007 and 21 September 2008, the first major exhibit of Turner's works in the United States in over forty years came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

, New York, the National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

, Washington, and the Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art is a major art museum located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, USA, along Woodall Rodgers Freeway between St. Paul and Harwood. In 1984, the museum moved from its previous location in Fair Park to the Arts District, Dallas, Texas...

. It included over 140 paintings, more than half of which were from the Tate.

An art gallery known as the Turner Contemporary has been built in Margate
Margate
-Demography:As of the 2001 UK census, Margate had a population of 40,386.The ethnicity of the town was 97.1% white, 1.0% mixed race, 0.5% black, 0.8% Asian, 0.6% Chinese or other ethnicity....

 to celebrate the association of the artist with the town.

The "Turner and his painters" exhibition (Tate Britain, London, 23 September 2009 to 31 January 2010, Paris, Grand Palais, 22 February to 24 May 2010) retraces and illustrates the development of Turner's very personal vision, through the many chance or deliberate, but always opportune and enriching interaction that influenced his remarkable career. Nearly 100 paintings and other graphic works (studies and engravings) from major British and American collections, as well as the Louvre and the Prado will be on show.

On July 7, 2010, Turner's final painting of Rome, “Modern Rome — Campo Vaccino”, from 1839, was bought by the J. Paul Getty Museum at a Sotheby’s auction in London for $44.9 million. In January 2011 The Painter
The Painter (play)
The Painter is a 2011 play by the British writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz on the life and relationships of JMW Turner. It premiered at the Arcola Theatre in January 2011 to mark its move to new premises...

, a biographical play on his life by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Rebecca Lenkiewicz is a British playwright. She attended Plymouth High School for Girls, then progressed to a BA in Film and English at the University of Kent from 1985 to 1989 and then to a BA Acting Course at the Central School of Speech and Drama from 1996 to 1999.-Career:As a writer, her plays...

, premiered at the Arcola Theatre
Arcola Theatre
Arcola Theatre is a studio theatre in Dalston, in the London Borough of Hackney. The theatre's ambition is to create and present high-quality theatre with a social and political relevance to its multicultural local community as well as a wider audience....

 in London.

Selected works

Turner was an extremely prolific artist who produced over 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, 30,000 paper works. The Tate Gallery in London produces the most comprehensive and up to date catalog of Turner works in held by both public and private collections worldwide.
  • 1796–Fisherman at Sea, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 1/8 in., Tate Gallery
    Tate Gallery
    The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art...

    , London
  • 1806–The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, oil on canvas–Tate Gallery
    Tate Gallery
    The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art...

    , London
  • 1812–Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps, oil on canvas, Tate Gallery
    Tate Gallery
    The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art...

    , London
  • 1817–Eruption of Vesuvius, oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art
    Yale Center for British Art
    The Yale Center for British Art is an art museum in New Haven, Connecticut at Yale University which houses the most comprehensive collection of British Art outside the United Kingdom...

    , New Haven, CT
  • 1817–Raby Castle, the Seat of the Earl of Darlington, oil on canvas, Walters Art Museum
    Walters Art Museum
    The Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland's Mount Vernon neighborhood, is a public art museum founded in 1934. The museum's collection was amassed substantially by two men, William Thompson Walters , who began serious collecting when he moved to Paris at the outbreak of the American...

    , Baltimore
  • 1822–The Battle of Trafalgar
    The Battle of Trafalgar (painting)
    The Battle of Trafalgar is an oil-on-canvas painting, created by J.M.W. Turner in 1824. The painting was ordered by King George IV for the Painted Hall at Greenwich, as a pendant for Louthebourg's Lord Howe's action, or the Glorious First of June. It shows the Royal Navy ship HMS Victory at the...

    , oil on canvas, National Maritime Museum
    National Maritime Museum
    The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England is the leading maritime museum of the United Kingdom and may be the largest museum of its kind in the world. The historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, it also incorporates the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,...

    , Greenwich
    Greenwich
    Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

    , London
  • 1829–Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus, oil on canvas, National Gallery
    National Gallery, London
    The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media...

    , London
  • 1834–Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art
    National Gallery of Art
    The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

    , Washington
  • 1835–The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States. It is located at the west end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The Museum was established in 1876 in conjunction with the Centennial Exposition of the same year...

    , Philadelphia
  • 1835–The Grand Canal, Venice, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

    , New York
  • 1838–The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken up, oil on canvas, National Gallery
    National Gallery, London
    The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media...

    , London
  • 1840–Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On)
    The Slave Ship (painting)
    "The Slave Ship" or "Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon coming on" is a painting by the British artist J. M. W...

    , oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States, attracting over one million visitors a year. It contains over 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas...

  • 1843–The Evening of the Deluge, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art
    National Gallery of Art
    The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

    , Washington
  • 1844–Approach to Venice, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art
    National Gallery of Art
    The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

    , Washington
  • 1844–Rain, Steam and Speed–The Great Western Railway, oil on canvas, National Gallery
    National Gallery, London
    The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media...

    , London

See also

  • British art
    British art
    British art could refer to:* Art of the United Kingdom - post 1707* English art* Irish art* Scottish art* Welsh art...

  • Cloudscape (art)
    Cloudscape (art)
    In art, a cloudscape is the depiction of a view of clouds or the sky. Usually, as in the examples seen here, the clouds are depicted as viewed from the earth, often including just enough of a landscape to suggest scale, orientation, weather conditions, and distance...

  • English school of painting
  • History of painting
    History of painting
    The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of...

  • List of British painters
  • Romanticism
    Romanticism
    Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

  • Sketchbook
    Sketchbook
    A sketchbook is "a book or pad with blank pages for sketching," and is frequently used by artists for drawing or painting as a part of their creative process....

  • Theory of Colours
    Theory of Colours
    Theory of Colours is a work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the poet's views on the nature of colours and how these are perceived by man, published in 1810...

  • Turner Prize
    Turner Prize
    The Turner Prize, named after the painter J. M. W. Turner, is an annual prize presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50. Awarding the prize is organised by the Tate gallery and staged at Tate Britain. Since its beginnings in 1984 it has become the United Kingdom's most publicised...

  • Western painting
    Western painting
    The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...


External links

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