Wednesday, March 14, 2012

J.M.W. Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) was the towering genius of English painting. Above, my current favorite, Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight, 1834.


And now a quick tour through his career. Turner was an experimentalist who tried different styles and changed his approach greatly over time. He was also, I think, inconsistent. He sometimes tried to convey things that are hard to see, like, the sea at night in a snowstorm, and the results are sometimes little more than mud. Some of his paintings have not held up well over time. But for those that are well preserved, these photographs are nothing like the real thing, and if you like him should should get to some museums and see originals. They glow.

Dark Prison, 1790s. Many of Turner's early works are renderings of architecture.

Carenarvon Castle, 1799. Starting to look like the Turner we know here.

Saltash with the Water Ferry, 1811. This delightful work has the color palette of the later masterpieces, but with more attention to details of objects and less on the quality of air and light.

A First Rate Taking on Stores, 1818.

Wreckers on the Coast of Northumberland, 1834, showing Turner's mature style.

Venice, 1835. Turner made the light of Venice look strikingly different from English light.

Ovid Banished from Rome, 1838.

The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to be Broken, 1839.

Sun Setting over a Lake, 1840. To me this is one of the muddy, unsuccessful works, but other people seem to love it.

Rain, Steam, and Speed: the Great Western Railway, 1844.

Just finding all these images and putting them together made me happy.

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