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Turner Landscapes

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Par   •  22 Novembre 2017  •  Commentaire d'oeuvre  •  2 321 Mots (10 Pages)  •  853 Vues

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Natalia Semenova

Turner’s Landscapes

One of the most prolific painters seen in Britain, Joseph Mallord William Turner was born on April 23rd, 1775 in London. His father was a barber and a wig maker and his mother came from a family of shopkeepers. Turner had a sister, Mary Anne though she died before reaching her fifth birthday. Her untimely death may have exacerbated his mother's fragile mind and she was committed to Bethlem Hospital in 1800. His father always encouraged Turner in regards to his gift, by exhibiting and selling some of his early drawings in his barber shop's window. [a]In December of 1789, Turner entered the Royal Academy at the young age of fourteen and by sixteen was attending life classes. “By 1794, with his friend Thomas Girtin, he attended the evening ‘academy’ hosted by Dr. Thomas Monro at his house in the Adelphi, copying works by other artists.[1] As a youngster, Turner realized the importance of drawing and sketching on the spot, something that will serve him very well later in life. “From the mid-1790s, he settled on the routine he maintained for much of his life: touring in summer and working in the studio in the winter months, for the following year's exhibitions, on commissions or for the engraver.[b][2] Throughout his life, Turner explored many different aspects of landscape painting such as marine, architectural, [c][d]ideal, mountainous, and pastoral as well as tried to convey emotion and atmosphere through the use of color.

His first sketchbook was filled with images and scenes that he would have seen while visiting his uncle in Brentford and later on Sunningwell. Due to the close location of Oxford and Abington, Turner’s first drawing for the exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1790 was The Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth. This was the second rendering of the subject, the first having been done for Thomas Hardwick. “he continued with greater address his studies of buildings, particularly the Gothic fabrics of Malmesbury and Bath abbeys”[3]. This can most clearly be seen in the two drawings exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792: [e]Bath Abbey from the north-east and The Pantheon, the morning after the fire. After a visit to Wales that same year, Turner continued fascination with architecture can be seen in his watercolor Interior of Tintern Abbey [f]which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1794. The Gothic architecture is presented in a theatrical sense with a soft Romantic effect was shown in a soft blue-grey hue that is prevalent in the decade’s works as opposed to the more positive colors in his later works.

“By 1795, Turner was working as a member of the loosely knit assembly of young artists known as the ‘Monro Academy’ or ‘Monro School’”[4] which was a group of young artists copying paintings of the Old Masters for Dr. Monro who held these salons in exchange for a couple of shillings and a warm supper. There Turner was introduced to the technique of sketching the outline drawings and then filling them up. At the time, Turner worked closely with another young artist Thomas Girt[g]in, both a friends and a rival. Girtin produced a watercolor painting The White House of Chelsea in 1800 which was very much admired by Turner. His own work The Evening Star thirty years later tried to capture the simplistic beauty of the painting using the same technique. It was said that when a man remarked that he had a painting more beautiful than Turner’s Star, the painter was at first angry, then contemplative, and then remarked that the only possible victor over his work would be that particular one of Girtin[5].

Unlike Girtin, who only produced watercolors until his death in 1802, Turner began to turn to oil as his dominant medium. The subject matter would change with the change of medium, expanding to encompass not only marine subjects but also history and mythology. His first exhibited oil painting was Fishermen at sea which would, later on, be known as [h][i]The Cholmeley Sea Piece. Turner was voted into the position of Academician at the Royal Academy at the ripe age of twenty-seven. This event yielded a wave of self-confidence and freedom for Turner to fully explore his interests. His major contributions to the Exhibition of 1802 were two paintings: [j]Fishermen upon a lee-shore, in squally weather and Ships bearing up for Anchorage. Both of these paintings show the development of Turner’s oil technique as well as his fascination with the sun and moon as a strong light or highlight source.

Just before the Exhibition was about to begin, the Treaty of Amiens was signed allowing Turner the yearned for the opportunity to travel. Turner left England for Paris on July 15[k]th, 1802 with the mission to study the Old Masters at the Louvre and to see the mountains and valleys of Switzerland. “His route took in a wide swathe of Switzerland, including the Grande Chartreuse, the Mer de Glace, the tour of Mont Blanc, the Devil’s Bridge on the St Gothard Pass, and the Falls of Schaffhausen”.[6] Throughout his visit, Turner managed to make over four hundred drawings in six sketchbooks which would serve to be the backbone and inspiration for the mountainous landscapes thought his life. One of his most famous drawings resulting from this trip was The Passage of the St Gothard which was exhibited in 1804.

After his ten-week trip, Turner returned to Paris to study the old masters at the Louvre. Some of the Old Masters, in particular, occupied his attention such as Poussin, Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Guercino, and Domenichino. On the other hand, Turner was critical of others such as Rubens and Rembrandt. The study of the Masters inspired the common reaction that great art usually did in Turner, that of "‘I can do better, or at least as well'"[l][m][7]. One prime example is the similarities between Poussin’s Deluge and Turners similarly titled work The deluge in which Turner tried to correct the perceived mistakes of the French artist. Turner stated “it is deficient in every requisite of line”[8].  Other such instances can be seen in sea-pieces that aim to outperform Van de Velde. In fact, Turner was hired to complete a painting for the Duke of Bridgewater as a companion piece to Velde’s work Rising Gale. Turner’s response was to produce Dutch boats in a gale which can almost be said to mirror Velde’s painting. Both of the paintings share the large white sails of the ship at the same angle, the rolling thunder clouds, and other vessels on the horizon line. The major difference between the two painting is Turner’s use of highlighting upon the waves of the ocean which lends his work a strong direct path from the viewer’s eye to the main subject of the painting.


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