Friday, June 1, 2012

Turner, Joseph Mallord William

The Fighting Termeraire tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up
Oil on canvas
91 x 122 cm 
National Gallery, London, England

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)  was born in London, England. He is the one of the finest landscape artists whose work was exhibited when he was still a teenager. His father was a barber. His mother died when he was very young. He received little schooling. His father taught him how to read, but this was the extent of his education except for the study of art. By the age of 13 he was making drawings at home and exhibiting them in his father's shop window for sale. His entire life was devoted to his art. Wherever he visited he studied the effects of sea and sky in every kind of weather. He developed a painting technique all his own. Instead of merely recording factually what he saw, he translated scenes into a light-filled expression of his own romantic feelings.

Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day. As he grew older Turner became an eccentric. Except for his father, he had no close friends. He allowed no one to watch him while he painted. One day Turner disappeared from his house. His housekeeper, after a search of many months, found him hiding in a house in Chelsea. He had been ill for a long time. He died the following day.

Unlike many artists of his era, he was successful throughout his career. He left a large fortune that he hoped would be used to support what he called "decaying artists." His collection of paintings was bequeathed to his country. At his request he was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. He is
commonly known as "the painter of light" and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.