Portrait of Joseph Mallord William Turner
by George Dance the Younger
This person is associated with: Romanticism
English romantic painter and watercolourist.
Most famous English painter of the first half of the 19th century, he only painted landscapes and marines (with the exception of two self-portraits). He is particularly celebrated for his rendering of clouds, fog, and sunlight, for which he was second to none.
In the 1790's, Turner painted many watercolours of castles, churches and ruins. Then, in his mature years (1800-1835), he switched to larger oil compositions, depicting marines and historic scenes, which still look like landscapes or cityscapes since human characters are often barely visible in the background. In his later years, he started to make paintings of shipwrecks and raging seas, which now look nearly abstract.
Turner travelled a lot to find inspiration:
1793, Kent (Dover, Canterbury, Rochester and Rye);
1802, France and Switzerland;
1817, Belgium and Germany, from Waterloo to Mainz, and travelling up the Rhine river;
1819-1820 (August to February), Italy (Rome);
1826-1828, France, going up the Loire river (from Nantes to Orleans);
1832, France, going up the Seine River, from Le Havre to Troyes;
1839, France and Germany, descending down the Mosel river from Metz to Koblenz;
1840, Italy (Venice);
1844, Switzerland, via the Rhine (Heidelberg).
A prolific artist, he produced over 500 paintings, 2.000 watercolours and countless drawings.
The paintings still in his possession at his death were bequeathed to the State in 1856, so the Tate Gallery holds an extensive collection of his works (including 20.000(!) drawings from his sketchbooks). Outside Britain, the Indianapolis Museum of art has the largest collection of Turner's paintings.