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Home >> Artists >> Turner


J.M.W. Turner was one of the greatest European painters of landscapes. His oils are somber in color but reveal his preoccupation with contrasted effects of light and atmospheric effects such as storms and rainbows. He is commonly known as "the painter of light". Although renowned for his oils, Turner is also regarded as one of the founders of English watercolour landscape painting.

He was born and bred in London, his father, William Turner, was a wig-maker who later became a barber and his mother lost mental stability when he was very young. Perhaps to escape the grim atmosphere at home he was sent to the Royal Academy of Arts.

Turner, along with John Constable, can be called the pillars of English painting. His canonical works were very influential. Impressionists carefully studied his techniques, although they sought to diminish the power of his paintings. In the modern art era, advocates of abstract art were also influenced by Turner.

Landscape Painting

Turnerís romantic nature turned him towards Landscape Painting. Landscape Paintings are after all depictions of mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. These compositions also include the sky in the background. Weather is an important facet of Landscape Paintings. Turner always tried to portray the awesome, untamed power of Nature towards mankind. Artists and viewers almost always equate landscape paintings with scenes of unspoiled beauty thatís because industrial revolution and the fast disappearing wilderness were the main themes of landscape paintings, as it can be seen in some of Turners works.

Turners most famous Painting

The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up is probably Turners best loved work. The painting shows the 98-gun ship Temeraire which played a distinguished role in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar being towed towards its final berth in east London in 1838 to be broken up. It signifies an end of an era. People still throng the National Gallery in London to be overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia that this painting has the capacity to evoke. In 2005 The Fighting Temeraire was voted the greatest painting in a British art gallery.

Turner Paintings are considered to be studies in light and color. His theory in particular that yellow was closest color to the production of white light in painting is considered to be revolutionary. Amongst his contemporaries he was a unique artist, because of his freewheeling style and his irreverence towards established artistic traditions. He was to open the way for a visionary anticipation of modern painting.

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