Sheerness As Seen From The Nore Analysis Essay


National Gallery, London, various dates to at least 1904 (380).


Display of Watercolours from the Turner Bequest, Tate Gallery, London, March 1934–May 1937 (no catalogue).


Ruskin and his Circle, Arts Council Gallery, London, January–February 1964 (109).


Adelaide Festival of Arts: Special Exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, [?March]–April 1966 (8).


Turner Watercolours: An Exhibition of Works Loaned by The Trustees of the British Museum, International Exhibitions Foundation tour, Cleveland Museum of Art, September–November 1977, Detroit Institute of Arts, December 1977–February 1978, Philadelphia Museum of Art, March–April 1978 (15).


Turner and the Sea: Watercolours from the Turner Bequest, Loaned by the British Museum, Tate Gallery, London, January–June 1982 (no catalogue).


Summer Miscellany: Watercolours from the Turner Bequest, Tate Gallery, London, July–October 1988 (no catalogue).


[?] Turner & the Coast of Kent, Canterbury Festival, Canterbury City Museums, October 1989 (no catalogue entries or list of works).


J.M.W. Turner 1775–1851: Impressions de Gran Bretanya i el Continent Europeu / Impresiones de Gran Bretaña y el Continente Europeo, Centre Cultural de la Fundació ”la Caixa”, Barcelona, September–November 1993, Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación ”la Caixa”, Madrid, November 1993–January 1994 (37, reproduced in colour).


J.M.W. Turner 1775 – 1851: Aquarelles et Dessins du Legs Turner: Collection de la Tate Gallery, Londres/Watercolours and Drawings from the Turner Bequest: Collection from the Tate Gallery, London, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Charleroi, September–December 1994 (37, reproduced in colour).


Making and Meaning: Turner: The Fighting Temeraire, National Gallery, London, July–October 1995 (27, reproduced in colour Plate 30).


Turner and Kent, Royal Museum & Art Gallery, Canterbury, September/October–November 2001, (exhibits not listed in catalogue, p.16 colour).


Tëp¿ep [Turner] (1775–1851), Pushkin Museum of Art, Moscow, November 2008–February 2009 (52).


Turner from the Tate Collection, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, April–July 2009 (52).

Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolorist and printmaker, whose style can be said to have laid the foundation for Impressionism. Although Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, he is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivaling history painting.

Turner was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, England. His father, William Gay Turner (27 January 1738 - 7 August 1829), was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, became increasingly mentally unstable, perhaps, in part, due to the early death of Turner's younger sister, Helen Turner, in 1786. She died in 1804, after having been committed to a mental asylum in 1799.

Possibly due to the load placed on the family by these problems, the young Turner was sent to stay with his uncle on his mother's side in Brentford in 1785, which was then a small town west of London on the banks of the River Thames. It was here that he first expressed an interest in painting. A year later he went to school in Margate on the north-east Kent coast. By this time he had created many drawings, which his father exhibited in his shop window.

Royal Academy of Arts

He entered the Royal Academy of Art Schools in 1789, when he was only 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy at the time, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to keep to painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick (Junior). A watercolor of Turner's was accepted for the Summer Exhibition of 1790 after only one year's study. He exhibited his first oil painting in 1796, Fishermen at Sea, and thereafter exhibited at the academy nearly every year for the rest of his life.

Fishermen at Sea: ca 1796

Although renowned for his oils, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolor landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light".

One of his most famous oil paintings is 'The fighting Temeraire' tugged to her last berth to be broken up, painted in 1838, which hangs in the National Gallery, London.

The Fighting Temeraire - tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up: 1838-39

Turner's emulation of Baroque painting, however, did not exclude modern references, rather transmuting them into 'high' art. In this way he competed with both historic and contemporary masters. The 'Fighting Temeraire' was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839 with a quotation from Thomas Campbell's poem Ye Manners of England: The flag which braved the battle and the breeze/No longer owns her'. The Temeraire had distinguished herself at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, but by the 1830's the veteran warships of the Napoleonic wars were being replaced by steamships. Turner, on an excursion on the Thames, encountered the old ship, sold out of the service, being towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be scrapped. In his painting topography and shipbuilding alike are manipulated to symbolic and pictorial ends. Turner conceives the scene as a modern Claude: a ghostly Temeraire and the squat black tug, belching fire and soot, against a lurid sunset. His technique is very different from Claude's, as thick painted rays and reflections contrast with thinly painted areas, and colors swoop abruptly from light to dark. A heroic and graceful age is passing, a petty age of steam and money bustles to hasten its demise. The dying sun signals the end of the one, a pale reflecting moon the rise of the other. But just as Claude's sunrises and sunsets enlist the viewer's own sense of journey, so does the last berth of the 'Fighting Temeraire' recall the breaking up of every human life.

Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year. He also made many visits to Venice. On a visit to Lyme Regis, in Dorset, England, he painted a stormy scene (now in the Cincinnati Art Museum).

Important support for his works also came from Walter Ramsden Fawkes, of Farnley Hall, near Otley in Yorkshire, who became a close friend of the artist. Turner first visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolors of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned time and time again. The stormy backdrop of 'Hannibal Crossing The Alps' is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over Otley's Chevin while Turner was staying at Farnley Hall.

Snow Storm - Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps: 1812

Turner shows the world as a visionary inter-realm between its origin in chaos and its infernal end. This painting confounds the viewers by the coexistence of traditional painting and the depiction of chaos through a chaotic application of paint. Here Turner was depicting the impotence of seemingly powerful humans faced with the primeval forces of nature.

Turner was also a frequent guest of George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont at Petworth House in West Sussex and painted scenes from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside, including a view of the Chichester Canal that Egremont funded. Petworth House still displays a number of paintings.

Chichester Canal: ca 1828

As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for thirty years, eventually working as his studio assistant. His father's death in 1829 had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression. He never married, although he had two daughters by Sarah Danby, one born in 1801, the other in 1811.

He died in the house of his mistress Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea on 19 December 1851. He is said to have uttered the last words "The sun is God" before expiring. At his request he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.

The architect Philip Hardwick (1792-1870) who was a friend of Turner's and also the son of the artist's tutor, Thomas Hardwick, was one in charge of his funeral arrangements and wrote to those who knew Turner to tell them at the time of his death that "I must inform you, we have lost him".

Turner's talent was recognized early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterized by a chromatic palette and broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint. According to David Piper's The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called "fantastic puzzles. " However, Turner was still recognized as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskin described Turner as the artist who could most "stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature."

Suitable vehicles for Turner's imagination were to be found in the subjects of shipwrecks, fires (such as the Burning of Parliament in 1834, an event which Turner rushed to witness first-hand, and which he transcribed in a series of watercolor sketches), natural catastrophes, and natural phenomena such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He was fascinated by the violent power of the sea, as seen in 'Dawn after the Wreck' (1840) and 'The Slave Ship' (1840).

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament: 1834

Today there is a mixture of old and newer buildings on the north bank of the River Thames. The fire of 1834 burned down most of the Palace of Westminster. The only part still remaining from 1907 is Westminster Hall. The buildings replacing the destroyed elements include Big Ben, with its four 23 feet clock faces, built in a rich late gothic style that now form the Houses of Commons and the House of Lords. These magnificent buildings are still the subject of many paintings, including our own Parliament, with the grand Westminster Abbey on their north.

The Slave Ship: 1840

Turner placed human beings in many of his paintings to indicate his affection for humanity on the one hand (note the frequent scenes of people drinking and merry-making or working in the foreground), but its vulnerability and vulgarity amid the 'sublime' nature of the world on the other hand. 'Sublime' here means awe-inspiring, savage grandeur, a natural world un-mastered by man, evidence of the power of God - a theme that artists and poets were exploring in this period. The significance of light was to Turner the emanation of God's spirit and this was why he refined the subject matter of his later paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, concentrating on the play of light on water, the radiance of skies and fires. Although these late paintings appear to be 'impressionistic' and therefore a forerunner of the French school, Turner was striving for expression of spirituality in the world, rather than responding primarily to optical phenomena.

His early works, such as 'Tintern Abbey' (1795), stayed true to the traditions of English landscape. However, in 'Hannibal Crossing the Alps' (1812), an emphasis on the destructive power of nature had already come into play. His distinctive style of painting, in which he used watercolor technique with oil paints, created lightness, fluency, and ephemeral atmospheric effects.

Tintern Abbey: 1795

This may be the watercolor of Tintern Abbey that Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1795, but some doubt remains - another watercolor of the same subject is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

One popular story about Turner, though it likely has little basis in reality, states that he even had himself "tied to the mast of a ship in order to experience the drama" of the elements during a storm at sea.

In his later years he used oils ever more transparently, and turned to an evocation of almost pure light by use of shimmering color. A prime example of his mature style can be seen in 'Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway', where the objects are barely recognizable. The intensity of hue and interest in evanescent light not only placed Turner's work in the vanguard of English painting, but later exerted an influence upon art in France, as well; the Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet, carefully studied his techniques.

Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway: 1844

While in the 'Fighting Temeraire' Turner seemed to deplore the Industrial Revolution, his attitude in this, one of his last great works, is much more ambiguous. The 1840's was the period of 'railway mania' and the restless Turner appreciated the speed and comfort of this form of travel. An unreliable anecdote by Turner's champion, Ruskin, records the origins of this picture in a train ride during a rain storm, during which the artist is supposed to have stuck his head out of the window. Excited as ever by strong sensations Turner replicates the experience in paint, although the viewer is imagined as seeing the approaching train from a high vantage point. The bridge was, and is, recognizable as Maidenhead Viaduct across the Thames between Taplow and Maidenhead, on the newly laid Great Western line to Bristol and Exeter. Begun on Brunel's design in 1837 and finished in 1839, the viaduct was the subject of controversy, critics of the GWR saying that it would fall down. The view is towards London; the bridge seen at the left is Taylor's road bridge, of which the foundation stone was laid in 1772.

Once again Turner relies on Claude for the diagonal recession from foreground to a vanishing point at the centre of the picture. The aims of the two artists, however, are very different. The exaggeratedly steep foreshortening of the viaduct along which our eye hurtles to the horizon is used to suggest the speed at which the locomotive irrupts into view through the driving rain, headlight blazing. Ahead of it, disproportionately large, a hare proverbially swiftest of all animals bounds across the tracks; we doubt if it will win the race and escape with its life. A skiff is on the river far beneath, and in the distance a ploughman stoically turns his furrow. Virtuoso swirls and slashes, and smears and sprays of paint, simulate rain, steam and speed to blur these figures of the old countryside.

Exhilaration and regret are mingled with alarm; in a second we must leap aside to let the iron horse roar by.

It has been suggested that the high levels of ash in the atmosphere during the 1816 'Year Without a Summer', which led to unusually spectacular sunsets during this period, were an inspiration for some of Turner's work.

John Ruskin says in his "Notes" on Turner in March 1878, that an early patron, Dr Thomas Monro, the Principal Physician of Bedlam, was a significant influence on Turner's style:

"His true master was Dr Monro; to the practical teaching of that first patron and the wise simplicity of method of watercolor study, in which he was disciplined by him and companioned by Giston, the healthy and constant development of the greater power is primarily to be attributed; the greatness of the power itself, it is impossible to over-estimate.

The first American to buy a Turner painting was James Lenox of New York City, a private collector, Lenox wished to own a Turner and in 1845 bought one unseen through an intermediary, his friend C. R. Leslie. From among the paintings Turner had on hand and was willing to sell for £500, Leslie selected and shipped the 1832 atmospheric seascape 'Staffa, Fingal's Cave'. Worried about the painting's reception by Lenox, who knew Turner's work only through his etchings, Leslie wrote Lenox that the quality of Staffa, "a most poetic picture of a steam boat" would become apparent in time. Upon receiving the painting Lenox was baffled, and "greatly disappointed" by what he called the painting's "indistinctness". When Leslie was forced to relay this opinion to Turner, Turner said "You should tell Mr. Lenox that indistinctness is my fault." Staffa, Fingal's Cave is currently owned by the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut.

Staffa Fingal's Cave: 1832

Turner left a small fortune which he hoped would be used to support what he called "decayed artists". Part of the money went to the Royal Academy of Arts, which does not now use it for this purpose, though occasionally it awards students the Turner Medal. His collection of finished paintings was bequeathed to the British nation, and he intended that a special gallery would be built to house them. This did not come to pass owing to a failure to agree on a site, and then to the parsimony of British governments. Twenty-two years after his death, the British Parliament passed an Act allowing his paintings to be lent to museums outside London, and so began the process of scattering the pictures which Turner had wanted to be kept together. In 1910 the main part of the Turner Bequest, which includes unfinished paintings and drawings, was re-housed in the Duveen Turner Wing at the Tate Gallery. In 1987 a new wing of the Tate, the Clore Gallery, was opened specifically to house the Turner bequest, though some of the most important paintings in it remain in the National Gallery in contravention of Turner's condition that the finished pictures be kept and shown together.

In 1974, the Turner Museum was founded in the USA by Douglass Montrose-Graem to house his collection of Turner prints.

A prestigious annual art award, the Turner Prize, created in 1984, was named in Turner's honor, but has become increasingly controversial, having promoted art which has no apparent connection with Turner's. Twenty years later the more modest Winsor & Newton Turner Watercolor Award was founded.

A major exhibition, "Turner's Britain", with material, (including 'The Fighting Temeraire') on loan from around the globe, was held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 7 November 2003 to 8 February 2004.

In 2005, Turner's The Fighting Temeraire was voted Britain's "greatest painting" in a public poll organized by the BBC.

In October 2005 Professor Harold Livermore, its owner for 60 years, gave 'Sandycombe Lodge, the Villa at Twickenham' which Turner designed and built for himself, to the Sandycombe Lodge Trust to be preserved as a monument to the artist. In 2006 he additionally gave some land to the Trust which had been part of Turner's domaine. The organization The Friends of Turner's House was formed in 2004 to support it.

In April 2006, Christie's New York auctioned 'Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute' and 'San Giorgio, a View of Venice' exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841, for US$35.8 million, setting a new record for a Turner. The New York Times stated that according to two sources who had requested anonymity the buyer was casino magnate Stephen Wynn.

Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute: 1841

San Giorgio, a View of Venice

In 2006, Turner's 'Glaucus and Scylla' (1840) was returned by Kimbell Art Museum to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffe after a Holocaust Claim was made. The painting was repurchased by the Kimbell for $5.7 million at a sale by Christie's in April of 2007.

Glaucus and Scylla

A Canal Tunnel Near Leeds

A Ship Aground: ca 1828

Ancient Italy - Ovid Banished from Rome: 1838

Approach to Venice: 1843

Morning among the Coniston Fells: 1798

Turner's early picture, Morning amongst the Coniston Fells, the result of a tour in the north of England in 1797, shows an original awareness of the drama of nature with its subtle play of early sunlight and dispersing mist. There is no overt religiosity, as in Friedrich's cross, but Turner also chose the upright format associated with the altarpiece, and added further significance by quoting verses alongside his picture in the Academy catalogue. He never painted a purer landscape, and the forces of nature take the place of human or mythological protagonists.

The Shipwreck: ca 1805

Turner's Shipwreck is remarkable not only for its stylistic advance, but also for the basically fatalistic vision of man at mercy of the forces of nature.

The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons: 1810

A consortium of Turner's patrons clubbed together to send him to Paris, during an interlude of peace in 1802, to study in the Louvre. He first embarked on a tour of the Alps, whose bleak splendor and subjection to constant climatic and geological change taught him the awesome scale and mutability of nature. The Alpine tour resulted in some spectacular watercolors but also, later, in paintings. He had not, in fact, witnessed an avalanche in 1802, but news of a devastating one in the Grisons in 1808 seems to have prompted him to his picture of 1810, in which huge rocks, driven before the weight of snow, crush a tiny chalet. Without a single human figure, it is a terrible revelation of human vulnerability and natural power - and of the potential of landscape as a 'Grand Style' in its own right.

Frosty Morning: 1813

This Yorkshire scene has an air of numbing chill, with rime glistening on earth and wild plants. Turner's English subjects still looked to the Dutch painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691), but he was demonstrating his own contribution to this tradition and the benefits of study direct from nature.

Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh: ca 1819

Heriot's Hospital, seen through the chaotic urban sprawl of early nineteenth- century Edinburgh, appears as an imposing although indistinct silhouette at the centre of this watercolor. Founded through a bequest to the city made by George Heriot (1563-1624), it was a charitable institution dedicated to the education of the orphans of freemen. The hospital, which is a magnificent example of Scottish Renaissance architecture, opened in 1659: today it houses George Heriot's School. The street in the foreground was the West Bow (now Victoria Street), a steep ally which ran from the Old Tollbooth Jail down to the eastern end of the Grassmarket.

Turner composes the scene, which he worked on in ca 1819, like a stage set, and contrasts the grand backdrop of the hospital with the crush of tenements and shops to either side. He takes considerable interest in the figures in the foreground, which include street traders, peddlers, and a group pushing a cart of coals uphill, many of whom wear tartan plaid. Particular care has also been taken over the jumble of objects at the right. Near them is a sign which appears to read 'English School' - this may be intended as an ironic reference to Turner's status as an English artist visiting Scotland.

The Grand Canal, Venice: 1835

Turner grew from a young art student trained in executing topographical watercolors to the creator of some of the most original landscapes of his time. On his second visit to Venice, probably in September 1833, he created a series of views of the city that betray on the one hand an ardent interest in recording what he saw and, on the other, a Romantic sensibility that suffused his pictures with a sense of the grandeur of nature and of its magnificent light and color. This picture is based in part on a pencil drawing made during Turner's first trip to Venice in August 1819 and combines two viewpoints along the Grand Canal. It was shown with four other works in May 1835 at the Royal Academy, where it was well received as one of his "most agreeable works."

Landscape with a River and a Bay in the Background: 1835-40

Peace - Burial at Sea: 1842

In the same Royal Academy exhibition as his 'Snow Storm', Turner showed a pair of pictures, 'Peace - Burial at Sea and War', the 'Exile and the Rock Limpet'. The first is a haunting tribute to David Wilkie, who had died and been buried at sea off Gibraltar the previous year, on his way back from a visit to the Holy Land. The other, ostensibly of the exiled Napoleon on his island prison of Saint Helena, standing against a sky bloodshot as if with the carnage of his wartime campaigns, alluded to Wilkie's close friend Haydon. Haydon was famous both for his own pictures of Napoleon and for the egotism, paranoia and constant warfare with colleagues, critics and patrons that had by this time brought him to a state of professional exile.

Peace is more than a farewell to a friend: it signals approval for the exemplary harmony in which Wilkie had lived. Its companion piece is a warning and a rebuke. It is characteristic of the painter's mental state - his basic belief was formed by deism - that the painting he called Peace depicts a burial: that of his famous fellow painter David Wilkie.

War, the Exile and the Rock Limpet: 1842

In the War, the Exile and the Rock Limpet, Napoleon, the man who once ruled the world is reduced to a costumed doll, his reflection conversing in a puddle with a rock limpet. The dying sun dominates the centre of the picture and symbolizes world chaos, in which history is played out only as the downfall of an individual. The futility of man's existence is presented to us by Turner as the ultimate futility of history. Power and decline, greatness and absurdity, importance and banality coincide here.

Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth: ca 1842

The Morning after the Deluge: ca 1843

Norham Castle, Sunrise: 1845

This famous painting is a reconsideration of an earlier composition.

Norham Castle on the River Tweed

The Angel Standing in the Sun: 1846

This dazzling and strange painting is the companion-piece of the Undine. The Angel is none other than the Angel of the Apocalypse from the biblical Book of Revelation. Perhaps the artist was thinking of himself as he conceived the apparition materializing from a blaze of his famous painted sunshine.

Undine Giving the Ring to Massaniello, Fisherman of Naples: 1846

It was from a German story, by Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Baron de la Motte Fouque, that he took the story of Undine, the sea sprite who, created without a soul, must gain one by marrying a human and bearing his child, but pay the price of assuming all the burdens of humanity. Turner probably knew the story from Hoffmann's opera (1816) or from a ballet recently seen on the London stage. In this picture of 1846, he marries his sprite to Massaniello, who had led a fishermen's revolt in seventeenth-century Naples. As a keen fisherman himself, and angry about recent criticism of his work, he doubtless identified with the rebellious Italian. In this union of fact and fantasy, history and myth, body and soul, and its contrasted protagonists, realized in shimmering colors, he seems to comment on his own union with elemental forces of sea, sky and wave.

Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus: ca 1848

Turner seems to have had more pleasure in painting after his return from Italy in 1819. Daring before, his confidence now appears have known no bounds-he seemed to paint by inspiration, scorning all models; and, after many brilliant successes and some failures, daring and his success culminated in this, the most magnificent of all his works. Mr. Ruskin calls it the central picture in his career.

Ulysses and his companions, according to Homer,' in order to escape from the Cyclops, heated his great staff and put out his one eye. The fire of the Greek-is seen under the cliff on the left hand. In front is the gorgeous galley of Ulysses. With its masts crowded with Greeks glorying in the discomfiture of: the giant who, a grand misty shape of suffering, is seen on the top of the hill, raising his hand in anguish or rage. Nothing can exceed the magnificence of the morning sky, with the sun rising behind bars of crimson and leaden blue. Mr. Ruskin says of this picture that "the burnished glow upon the sea, and the breezy stir in the blue darkness about the base of the cliffs, and the noble space of receding sky, vaulted with its lines of cloudy gold, and the upper peaks of the snowy Sicilian promontory, are all as perfect and as great as human work can be."

Abergavenny Bridge Monmountshire

Archway with Trees by the Sea: ca 1828

Ariccia Sunset: ca 1828

Boscastle Cornwall

Turner has taken considerable liberties with the height of the hills around Boscastle to accentuate the drama of the landscape. The ship is being warped into the harbor with a rope attached to a capstan on the jetty.

Brunnen from the Lake of Lucerne: 1845

Buttermere Lake - A Shower: ca 1798

Turner had visited the Lake District in 1797. This view of Buttermere could be described as an exercise in a moderate version of the Sublime. The portrait painter John Hoppner rather snootily said the picture was that of 'a timid man afraid to venture'. However, it might instead be seen as an attempt to explore the Sublime effects of stillness and grandeur, instead of more obvious sensationalism. The dark tonalities reflect the influence of Edmund Burke, who associated somber colors with the Sublime.

Caernarvon Castle: 1799

Caernarvon Castle was built in Wales by Edward I, as part of his oppressive effort to establish English rule. These historic associations, and the castle's impressive architecture, made it perfect material for artists in search of picturesque subjects.

Turner visited North Wales in 1798 and made a number of paintings and drawings of the castle. This is an oil sketch; Turner exhibited a large finished watercolor of the same scene at the Royal Academy in 1799.

Calais Pier: 1803

The packet boat is arriving at Calais, full of passengers. The heavy swell and storm clouds dominate the scene. The sun breaks through to touch the sail. The shaft of light from the sun down to the sea forms the centre of the composition.

Turner's picture is based on a real-life event. In 1802 he took his first trip abroad via Calais. On a sketch for this picture he noted that the seas had been so rough he was 'nearly swamped'.

The picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803. Like a number of Turner's pictures it was not well received, and was thought unfinished in the foreground.

Campo Santo - Venice

The packet boat is arriving at Calais, full of passengers. The heavy swell and storm clouds dominate the scene. The sun breaks through to touch the sail. The shaft of light from the sun down to the sea forms the centre of the composition.

Turner's picture is based on a real-life event. In 1802 he took his first trip abroad via Calais. On a sketch for this picture he noted that the seas had been so rough he was 'nearly swamped'.

The picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803. Like a number of Turner's pictures it was not well received, and was thought unfinished in the foreground.

Cathedral Church at Lincoln: 1795

Conway Castle: 1798

On a dramatic, rocky area of the northern coast of Wales looms the late medieval Conway Castle. It towers over a stormy bay while fisherman struggles to pull their boats ashore. Caught in this up roaring of the sea, the tiny figures of fishermen in their boat convey a sense of humans barely significant place in the order of the universe.

The Welsh landscape exerted a strong hold on Joseph Mallord William Turner, and he made several sketching trips there in the 1790's. In this early Romantic painting, Turner represented the dramatic effects of natural light, allowing sunshine breaking through the clouds to illuminate the castle and the coast beyond.

Crossing the Brook: 1815

Between 1811 and 1814 Turner made three journeys into the West Country. These were extended summer tours, primarily to make watercolors for an engraving commission, Picturesque views of the south coast of England, which was published in sixteen parts from 1814 to 1826. In his last trip in 1814 Turner 'sketched around the River Tamar, making studies of the river valley at Gunnislake and Calstock'.

The artist exhibited two large oils, 'Crossing the Brook' and 'Dido Building Carthage', at the Royal Academy in 1815. Despite the different scale of ambition that seems to mark their titles and subjects, an idyllic English scene could also be a grand history painting, to be shown at the season which marked Britain's final victory over Napoleon. The large vertical landscape was well received, and praised by most. Not everyone liked it, however: Sir George Beaumont, the artist's enemy, characterized it as 'weak and like the work of an Old man, one who had no longer saw or felt color properly; it was all of peagreen insipidity'. Contemporary viewers may disagree with his sour verdict. Crossing the brook is a masterpiece of nineteenth-century landscape, which encapsulates local and national views of ideal Classical painting. It presents these views in a grand yet succinct form. In 1815 Turner summed up the hopes of a war-weary Britain in this naturalized Claudean landscape of observed incident and eternal pleasure.

Dido Building Carthage: 1815

Turner so loved this painting, that he requested his body be wrapped in the canvas upon his death. Turner's executer of his will, Francis Chantry, pointed out to Turner that as soon as you are buried I will see you taken up and unrolled. The will was altered the painting now hangs in the National Gallery, London.

The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire: 1817

'The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire' - Rome being determined on the Overthrow of her Hated Rival, demanded from her such Terms as Might either force her into War, or ruin her by Compliance: the Enervated Carthaginians, in their Anxiety for Peace, consent to give up even their Arms and their Children.

As in Dido building Carthage, the underlying compositional structure matches the central dramatic sensibility of the work.

Nota Bene: Remember that Turner's theme should be considered in historic terms with the defeat of Napoleon and the impact of empire and war can ever have on any society.

Carthage Empire:

About 800 BC the Phoenicians established Carthage on the edge of a region in North Africa that is now Tunisia. The city became the commercial center of the western Mediterranean and retained that position until overthrown by Rome.

According to tradition, Queen Dido founded Carthage after she fled from Tyre. The inhabitants there agreed to give her as much land as she could encompass with a single ox hide. By cutting the hide into thin strips, Dido was able to enclose a large area. It was near Carthage, according to Virgil's 'Aeneid', that Aeneas was shipwrecked.

Carthage lay on a bay. Its Phoenician settlers were seafarers and traders. Aided by slave labor they built wharves, markets, and factories. Carthage grew rich and strong, with colonies in North Africa, in Spain, and on the Mediterranean islands.

Powerful Rome, over a period of a hundred years, defeated Carthage in the Punic Wars. The first, fought in Sicily from 264 to 241 BC, cost Carthage Sicily and a large indemnity.

In the second Punic War, from 218 to 201 BC, the general Hannibal crossed Spain and southern France with his war elephants and climbed over the Alps, an almost unbelievable exploit, to defeat the Romans at Cannae. After he was recalled to Africa, he lost at Zama, and Carthage was forced to withdraw from Spain.

Rome won the third Punic War, fought from 149 to 146 BC, in spite of a heroic resistance in which Carthaginian women cut off their hair to provide bowstrings for the catapults. Carthage was burned.

The emperor Augustus later built a new city on the site. This became a Roman seat of government in Africa. When the Vandals overran the region, Carthage was made their capital. It was destroyed again after its capture in AD 647 by the Arabs.

On the edge of a region in North Africa that is now Tunisia. The city became the commercial center of the western Mediterranean and retained that position until overthrown by Rome.

Punic Wars, Three major wars between Rome and Carthage resulting in the subjugation of Carthage and Rome's acquisition of territories beyond the Italian Peninsula. First war (264-241 BC) was probably brought on by the desire for military aggrandizement by the Roman Nobiles. Its immediate cause was a conflict between the Mamertini and forces from Syracuse, on Sicily. Both Carthage and Rome responded to the Mamertini request for aid, and soon after were at war with one another. The Romans built a great fleet, defeated the Carthaginians at the Battle of Mylae (260), and launched an ill-fated invasion of Africa in which the commander, Regulus, was captured (255) by Greek mercenaries. On Sicily, the Carthaginian commander Hamilcar Barca succeeded in thwarting the Romans' attempt at decisive victory. However, the Roman fleet finally destroyed the Carthaginian fleet in the naval battle of Aegates (241) and thereby forced the Carthaginians to accept peace. Rome gained Carthaginian territories on Sicily. Not long after, Rome also annexed Sardinia and Corsica. Second War (218-201 BC) between Rome and Carthage, sparked by the Carthaginians' conquest of Saguntum, a Spanish city loosely associated with Rome. In the years after the first war, Carthage had greatly expanded its holdings in Spain. With the outbreak of war, the great Carthaginian general Hannibal led his forces on the now famous march from Spain, across the Alps, and into north Italy. He won notable victories at Ticinus (218), Trebia (218), Lake Trasimenus (217) and Cannae (216), but failed to take Rome itself. Although Hannibal gained control of much of southern Italy, Carthage failed to provide him needed support. Finally, the Roman invasion of North Africa by Scipio Africanus Major (204) forced Hannibal to return to Carthage. He was defeated at the Battle of Zama (202), and Carthage itself fell (201). Carthage had to give up its navy and its Spanish territories and never again seriously threatened Roman military superiority. Third War (149-146 BC) between Rome and Carthage, resulting from Roman fears about a resurgent Carthage and efforts by the Roman, Cato the Elder, to bring about the complete destruction of Carthage. Rome finally declared war and soon after laid siege to Carthage. The Carthaginians refused to surrender, and the Romans, led by Scipio Africanus Minor, were forced to fight in the streets of the city to gain control of it. They then completely destroyed Carthage and organized Carthaginian domains into the Roman province of Africa.

Dolbadern Castle: 1799

Inspired by Thomas Gray's "The Bard"

I ruin feize thee, ruthlefe King!
Confufion on the banners wait,
Tho' fann'd by Congueft's crimfan wing
They mock the air with idle fate.
Helm, nor Haubork's twifted mail,
Nor e'en they virtues, Tyrant, fhall crail
To fave thy fecret foul from nightly fear,
From Gambria's curft, from Gambria's tears!

Dort - the Dort Packet Boat from Rotterdam Bacalmed: ca 1818

This is the painting that John Constable claimed was "the most complete work of genius I ever saw". The painting has a misleading simplicity but every part is in the right spot and the right size. Turner to get the right light was known to walk 20 miles a day, sometimes around a whole bay, to get the right look of a place. In these days of high fuel prices, that is something to keep in mind.

Dover Castle

Legend tells us the story of Sean Flynn, a 15 year old drummer boy whose headless ghost walks these battlements, drumming his drum in the dead of night. He had been sent to the town of Dover late one night on an errand. Through the darkness he walked with only his drum to keep him company. Unfortunately, two greedy soldiers had heard that he was going to town and that he carried a substantial amount of money so on his way to the town they ambushed him and despite the boys efforts to fight them off, one mighty blow from their sword took off his head and he lay dead at the foot of the castle.

People have since heard the sound of drumming coming from the Castle battlements and some even say they have seen a headless figure walking along them very late at night! Could this be the drummer boy?

East Cowes Castle, the seat of J Nash Esq: 1828

This canvas depicts the Royal Yacht Club races held off the Isle of Wight in 1827. From vantage points on shore and aboard a man-o-war moored in the English Channel, Turner made seventy drawings and eight oil sketches of the races. True to his usual practice, however, he did not rely on any single study for this canvas.

Clearly, Turner did not wish to merely record a race but to recreate the romantic pageant of vessels challenging the wind and waves. The atmospheric clarity and complex composition derive from Turner's study of 17th-century Dutch marine painting.

Ehrenbrietstein and Coblenz: 1840

Eruption of Vesuvius: 1817

Joseph Mallord William Turner's style is believed to have laid the foundation for the art movement, we now know as Impressionism. A master at painting landscapes, Turner elevated landscape art to an eminence that rivals history painting.

'Eruption of Vesuvius' is a striking painting depicting the erupting volcanic mountain, Vesuvius. His chromatic palette and "broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint" are wonderfully brilliant in their technique and quality of image created.

The acclaimed English art critic John Ruskin has described Turner as an artist who could most "stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature." Known for his paintings of shipwrecks, fires, natural phenomena like storm, rain, fog and sunlight, and natural catastrophes such as 'Eruption of Vesuvius', Turner was fascinated by the power of these elements. The, almost, monochromatic palette of Eruption of Vesuvius dramatically and convincingly conveys the fury of the lava as it erupts from the mouth of the mountain and seeks freedom into the atmosphere lighting up the sky with its power! The reflection of this catastrophe in the waters is brilliantly captured by the artist. Humans fleeing away from the site of destruction indicate the helplessness of humanity in front of nature's might but also indicate Turner's affection for humanity.

However Turner's humans are also vulnerable and vulgar amidst the sublime nature. Sublime here quite literally means awe-inspiring, powerful, savage, untamable and a metaphor for God's power. Turner gave a lot of emphasis to light in his paintings. For him, light signified the emanation of the spirit of God and much of his later work displays light on water (Eruption of Vesuvius), radiance of fires and skies and appear to be impressionistic in nature and theme.

Turner's distinctive style of painting was a product of his use techniques of watercolor with oil paints. The result was a fluid, fluent, light and ephemeral sky, brilliant atmosphere and a disturbing effect on the viewer.

Fall of the Trees Yorkshire

Falmouth Harbor, Cornwall

First Rate - taking in stores

Folkestone - from the Sea

Joseph William Turner used smugglers "sowing a crop of tubs" as the subject of his painting "Folkestone from the sea", shown here. According to an essay by Christiana Payne, Turner based the picture, and two others he made of smuggling subjects, on a visit to the port that he made in 1821. She suggests that his paintings are so accurate that Turner may have even gone out on a run with the smugglers to make sure he got the details right. The picture's companions are "Twilight - Smugglers off Folkestone fishing up smuggled gin" (1824) and "Folkestone, Kent".

Fort Vimieux: 1831

Glacier and Source of the Arveron: 1803

Goldau: 1841

The boulders in the foreground and the vivid hues of the sky, whose "scarlet" clouds symbolized destruction, according to John Ruskin, allude to the landslide that devastated the Swiss village of Goldau in 1806. This watercolor is one of seven that Ruskin and his father commissioned from Turner between 1842 and 1845. Assessing Turner's late Swiss and German watercolors, Ruskin considered this work "on the whole the mightiest drawing of his final time."

Hafod: ca 1799

Heidelberg: ca 1846

The Parting of Hero and Leander: ca 1837

In Greek mythology, Leander swam the Hellespont each evening to meet his lover, Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite. She guided him by a lighted torch. One stormy night, the light blew out, and Leander was drowned. Hero flung herself into the sea after him. Here the brewing storm suggests the tragedy ahead.

Turner exhibited this painting in 1837, with his own verses re-telling the story. The painting was not well received. One critic called it 'the dream of sick genius... what all that white has to do with the picture, it would puzzle anyone to find out'.

Ingleborough from the Terrace of Hornby Castle

Interior of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Interior of Salisbury Cathedral: ca 1802-05

Ivy Bridge Devonshire

For most people J.M.W.Turner is famous for his use of color in his oil paintings and watercolors: the vivid reds and oranges in 'The Slave Ship', the subtleties of 'Norham Castle', Sunrise, and the dazzling yellow light in 'The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire'. In this Exhibition, however, we are concentrating on Turner's other great preoccupation: his engravings, where his palette is obviously reduced to black and white but appears to include many shades of grey, obtained through the skill of the engravers and their ability to represent tone.

Turner was himself a fine etcher and engraver and throughout his life he employed highly-skilled professional engravers - and grumbled at them regularly when they did not reach his exacting standards! He understood the importance of engraving in reaching the wider public, before the advent of photography made the almost instantaneous transmission of the image a commonplace.

His great interest lay in depicting the scenery both of the British Isles and of European countries such as Switzerland, France and Italy. Not only did he make a major contribution to such publications as Cooke's Picturesque Views of the South Coast of England, but in 1826 set out on an ambitious venture of his own: Picturesque Views in England and Wales, to consist of 120 engravings, for which he would provide the watercolors. These beautiful paintings are now highly regarded (and priced) treasures but the engravings reached that wider audience who would never have had the opportunity to view the originals.

Keelman Heaving in Coals by Night

On England's River Tyne, near the mining city of Newcastle, stevedores called Keelmen transfer coal from barges, or keels, to oceangoing vessels. The harsh glare of the workmen's torches contrasts with the funnel of creamy light emanating from the moon. Critical opinion about Turner's unusual nocturne was divided. One reviewer observed: " "It represents neither night nor day, and yet the general effect is very agreeable and surprising."

Commissioned as a pendant to 'Venice: The Dogana' and 'San Giorgio Maggiore' and shown at the Royal Academy in 1835, this canvas creates a total counterpoint in mood and meaning. The Venetian scene is far away in the Mediterranean Sea, concerns luxury goods, and glows with warm daylight. This North Sea view-a familiar sight to the British public-reveals sooty, modern industry chilled by the colors of a winter's night.

Kenilworth Castle: ca 1830

Largely destroyed in the English Civil War, Kenilworth was one Britain's grandest relics of a historic past. English Heritage has spent two years restoring the Leicester's Gatehouse, built by Queen Elizabeth's love and nemesis Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The imposing Norman Keep with its distinct square tower had dominated the castle and midlands countryside since the conquest and its walls had housed some of Great Britain's greatest historical figures. King John expanded the castle defenses in 1210, building curtain walls and defensive towers of the outer court, and creating a massive lake moat, turning Kenilworth into an island fortress.

In 1266 rebels under the leadership of Henry of Hastings used the castle as a refuge during a year long siege of Kenilworth Castle with its water defenses, the double moat fending off siege towers and even an assault by barge. Edward II was imprisoned here after his defeat by his wife Queen Isabella and Roger de Mortimer in 1326. In 1394, John of Gaunt added the marvelous great hall and private apartments of the inner court, turning the military fortress into a royal palace, enjoyed by Henry V, who built a summerhouse and water-garden called 'The Pleasaunce'. The castle was granted to Robert Dudley by the Virgin Queen as a gift and he built the Leicester Gatehouse and Elizabethan gardens. The gate house had been closed since the last occupants departed in the 1930's but have been painstakingly restored to that time with a collection of exhibitions. On the top floor can be discovered the tale of love and transgression of Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley in all its Tudor soap opera glory in "Queen and Castle: Robert Dudley's Kenilworth" with rare portraits of Elizabeth and Dudley. Another exhibition showing the castle's long and colorful history can be found in the restored stables built by Dudley. Two of the rooms on the ground floor will also be available for weddings and private events.

Kidwelly Castle

This is an imposing 12th century castle in South West Wales once encompassing the town within its walls. Kidwelly Castle's giant gatehouse and towers inspired a painting by the artist JMW Turner. Its structure is remarkably intact, and was modified throughout the medieval period so it also shows off the development of castle defenses.

Kilchern Castle Scotland

Light dazzlingly illuminates the works of British painter William Turner (1775 - 1851) like fireworks and sheet lightning. An artist who masterfully commands light, Turner is also called "the painter of light," and "the great pyrotechnist." An astonishingly prolific artist who created 20,000 paintings and drawings, Turner was a child prodigy whose first painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy when he was 15 and had his own studio at age 18.

Kirby Londsale Churchyard: ca 1818

Lancaster Sands

Melrose Abbey

An earlier monastery dedicated to Saint Aidan was founded at Old Melrose in the 7th century on a site about two miles east of Melrose Abbey. It was raided by Kenneth I of Scotland in 839. Set in a bend of the river Tweed, a graveyard marks the site. Saint Cuthbert was one of the abbots, before he became bishop of Holy Island, in Northumbria.

King David I wanted the new abbey to be built on the same site, but the Cistercians insisted that the land was not good enough for farming and instead selected the current site. It is supposed to have been built in ten years. The church of the convent was dedicated to St. Mary (like all Cistercian houses) on July 28, 1146. The Abbey became the mother church of the order in Scotland.

A town slowly grew up around the Abbey. In 1322 the town was attacked by the army of Edward II, and much of the Abbey destroyed. It was rebuilt with the help of King Robert the Bruce, whose embalmed heart, encased in lead, was buried in the church.

In 1544, as English armies raged across Scotland in an effort to force the Scots to allow the infant Mary, Queen of Scots to marry the son of Henry VIII, the Abbey was again badly damaged and was never fully repaired. This led to its decline as a working monastery. The last abbot was James Stuart (illegitimate son of James V), who died in 1559. In 1590, Melrose's last monk died.

The Abbey withstood one final assault-some of its walls still show the marks of cannon-fire after having been bombarded by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War.

In 1610, a portion of the Abbey's church was converted into a parish church for the surrounding town. This involved the insertion of a plain vault into the crossing, which obscured the original ribbed vaulting. It was used until 1810 when a new church was erected in the town.

In 1996 an archaeological excavation on the site unearthed a conical lead container and an engraved copper plaque that read "The enclosed leaden casket containing a heart was found beneath Chapter House floor, March 1921, by His Majesty's Office of Works"; the lead container was not opened, but it is assumed that since there are no records of anyone else's heart being buried at Melrose that it was indeed the heart of Robert I. The container was reburied at Melrose Abbey on June 22, 1998. A plinth was unveiled on June 24 that covers the burial site of the container.

Mont Blanc from Fort Roch Val D'Aosta

Moonlight - A Study at Millbank: 1797

Turner's first oil shown at the Royal Academy was a marine nocturne, shown in 1796. This night piece of the Thames, from a position near that of Tate Britain, belongs to the following year. Moonlight effects were a fashionable pictorial convention, mainly derived from Dutch seventeenth-century painters like Aert van der Neer then popular with British collectors. Here, however, the impression is of an uncontrived naturalism.

Mortlake Terrace: 1826

Mortlake Terrace, the Seat of William Moffatt, Esq.; Summer's Evening.

Turner painted two complementary views of the estate of William Moffatt (ca. 1754-1831) at Mortlake, west of London. One, exhibited in 1826, looks downriver toward Moffatt's Neoclassical residence; the painting shown here, exhibited in 1827, is based on a vantage point from within the house, looking in the opposite direction toward Kew. Both works share a yellow tonality, which prompted a contemporary critic to suggest that Turner was "desperately afflicted" with "what we may call a yellow fever." The black dog, silhouetted on the terrace, was painted on a sheet of paper that had been affixed to the canvas-an intervention variously ascribed to Turner and to the artist Edwin Landseer, who was said to have acted during Turner's absence on Varnishing Day.

Mountain Stream - Coniston

Okehampton: ca 1826

Passage of Mount Cenis

Pembroke Caselt South Wales: 1801

The history of the site goes back at least to the Roman period, although there are no remains of that period visible.

Located in the centre of the town of Pembroke, it is one of the most impressive Norman castles in Wales, first established in 1093, when the Norman Conquest of Wales was not complete.

In 1138, it became the property of Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke. William Marshall received the castle through marriage and became Earl of Pembroke. He was responsible for commissioning the circular stone keep. Later the castle was given to Jasper Tudor along with the earldom, and he brought his widowed sister-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, to the castle to give birth to her only child, the future King Henry VII of England (1457).

Most of the damage to the castle was done during the English Civil War, when its owners changed sides. After the war Oliver Cromwell, who was personally present at a siege here, encouraged local townspeople to disassemble the structure, stone by stone for their own re-use. Today the castle is open to the public. It is the largest privately owned castle in Wales.

Petworth Park Tillington Church in the Distance: ca 1828

Turner was a regular visitor to Petworth, the Sussex seat of his patron Lord Egremont, who provided him with a painting room. In about 1827, Egremont commissioned Turner to paint a set of landscapes for insertion in the paneling of the house's Carved Room. They were to hang beneath portraits. This was one of the first to be painted, and was installed by August 1828. Egremont is seen returning from an evening walk in the park, greeted by his dogs. A more finished version, with a cricket match and fighting stags, was later substituted for this picture.

Petworth the Drawing Room: ca 1828

Pope's Villa at Twickenham: 1808

As the title suggests, 'Pope's Villa at Twickenham' depicts the home of one of Turner's favorite sources of poetic inspiration, that of Alexander Pope. The painting, which captures the then scandalous rebuilding of the great English poet's villa on the banks of the River Thames at Twickenham, clearly had a great deal of personal meaning to Turner; not only did it highlight his passion for the Twickenham stretch of the River Thames, which was close to where he lived at the time, but it also expressed his need for tranquility and his desire to escape the activity of London and the news and chaos surrounding the continuation of the Napoleonic Wars. Undertaken shortly after the artist's elected appointment at the Royal Academy as Professor of Perspective in 1807, it is thought to be the first work that he signed with the additional 'PP' after his signature.


The work depicts a seascape with Gosport in the background. To the forefront is a small vessel swaying in the choppy waves - the face of a female passenger and a crew member clearly visible. Behind and around it are numerous vessels and rowboats.

Prudhoe Castle Northumberland: 1826

Begun between 1100 and 1120 to defend a strategic crossing of the River Tyne against Scottish invaders, Prudhoe Castle has been continuously occupied for over nine centuries. After two sieges during the 1170's - the Scots attackers reportedly declaring 'as long as Prudhoe stands, we shall never have peace' - the mighty stone keep and a great hall were added, followed in about 1300 by two strong towers. Passing from its original Umfraville owners to the powerful Percies in 1398, it was again updated with a fashionable new great hall.

Even after its last military action against the Scots in 1640, Prudhoe's importance as the center of a great landed estate continued. Early in the 19th century the Percies restored it, building a fine new manor house within its walls. All these developments are now vividly interpreted in a family-friendly exhibition including site finds, helping visitors to explore and understand the extensive remains of this formidable and long-lived fortress.

Quillebeuf at the Mouth of Seine: 1833

This painting, showing the small village of Quillebeuf on the Seine estuary, is part of a series exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1833.

The artist uses the flight of a flock of seagulls spiraling upwards into the sky as the central element in the composition's controlled balance.

Taking naturalistic observation as his starting point and maintaining the local references, Turner produced an emotive exercise in light and color, showing the way towards a new artistic language that the Impressionists would later understand and assimilate.

The painting reveals the trend towards the progressive elimination of forms, which become mere thematic pretexts. By doing this, Turner transcends the composition's physical space, opting instead to transform it into a setting where impressions are heightened.

Raby Castle the Seat of the Earl of Darlington: 1818

Turner visited Raby Castle in autumn 1817, having received a commission from the third Earl of Darlington to paint a view of his country home. He based this painting on one of his sketches from this visit. The work was not well received by the critics when Turner exhibited it at the Royal Academy the following year along with 'The Field of Waterloo' - "the still more detestable fox hunting picture, which we consider a disgrace to his talents," wrote one. X-radiographs of this painting reveal that the foreground was dominated by a large fox-hunting scene, which Turner painted over at the earl's request.


Rhodes (for Lord Byron's Works): 1823-24

Lord Byron's Poems

Rocky Bay with Figures: ca 1830

The painting is unfinished but was intended to become a subject from Homer's 'Odyssey' or 'Iliad'. The scenery is clearly Mediterranean, and there are suggestions of figures on the beach at left, and antique ships in the right distance and under the cliffs at left.

Rome from Monte Testaccio

At a very short distance from the Porta San Paolo station you can see Monte Testaccio, a peaceful, green oasis in the heart of the chaotic capital.

"Monte" or Mount may be a touch exaggerated for what is actually more of a 35 meter tall hill that, in over two thousand years of history, from imperial Rome to the present day, has had a variety of uses.

Its name derives from "testa", earthenware in Latin, because in ancient Rome it was used as a dumping ground for amphora scraps (earthenware pots) from the emporiums and the "horrea" or shopping centers of the time. In the middle ages it became the theater of Christian processions and rites, a cross has survived at the top of Monte Testaccio as testimony of this time. Monte Testaccio, together with the nearby fields that went all the way to the Aventino, was also the grounds for important public games in which many nobles participated and which were often presided by the Pope himself.

Pope Paul II put an end to the public games on Monte Testaccio and transferred them to his palace - the present day Palazzo Venezia - but Monte Testaccio retained its popularity among the middle and lower classes thanks to its many caves, used for the storage of wine.

Rome from Mount Aventine: 1836

Rome from the Vatican: 1820

Turner was forty-two years old, and at the height of his powers, when he first visited Rome. The city was filled with associations with the subjects from classical mythology which Turner dramatized in his work.

On his return home, Turner painted this sweeping view from the Vatican Loggia, across Saint Peter's Square towards the Abruzzi hills. It embraces all that Rome meant to him as the historic centre, first of the Roman Empire, then of its successor, the Christian Church, and then of the great artists of the Renaissance - crowned by Raphael, who stands in the foreground.

Rome Saint Peter's from the Villa Barberini: 1819

Rome - The Colosseum: 1820

Rome - The Forum with a Rainbow: 1819

Saint Erasmus in Bishop Islips Chapel Westminster Abbey

Santa Sabes and the Brook Kedron

Scarborough Town and Castle Morning Boys Catching Crabs: 1811

South View of Christ Church

Stamford Lincolnshire: ca 1828

Sun Rising through Vagour Fishermen Cleaning and Selling Fish: 1807

Sunrise Whiting Fishing at Margate

Tabley the Seat of Sir J F Leicester

Tabley House

The Bass Rock (for The Provincial Antiquities of Scotland): ca 1824

The Battle of Fort Rock Val d'Aoste Piedmont

The Bay of Baiae with Apollo and the Sibyl: ca 1823

Turner had sketched the Bay of Baie, west of Naples, during his 1819 tour of Italy. This painting, though, represents an idealized view of the site, owing more to the landscapes of Claude Lorrain than to nature as directly observed-a fact that was not lost on Turner's contemporaries. When the painting was first exhibited in 1823, Turner's friend the artist George Jones (1786-1869) playfully wrote on the frame, SPLENDIDE MENDAX ("splendid lie")-allegedly, Turner never removed it.

The Blue Rigi Lake of Lucerne Sunrise: 1842

This watercolor is one of three finished drawings of this subject that are regarded as amongst the finest achievements not only of Turner, but also of the watercolor medium. Turner depicts the Rigi, a Swiss mountain peak, rising above Lake Lucerne at sunrise and its defining dark tone reflects Turner's interest in the transforming effects of lighting and atmospheric effects.

The Bright Stone of Honor and the Tomb of Marceau from Byron's Childe Harold: 1835

Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

The Brunig Pass from Meringen: 1847-48

The Chain Pier Brighton: ca 1828

The Chapter House Salisbury Chathedral

Welcome to Salisbury Cathedral

The Devil's Bridge Saint Gothard

Joseph Mallord William Turner is one of the first British painters to have explored the Swiss Alps in detail.

Lord Byron also loved the mountains. The famous English poet settled in the Villa Diodati, near Geneva, in 1816. He wrote these lines during a boat trip on the lake: "How much more, Lake of Beauty! Do we feel, in sweetly gliding o'er thy crystal sea." Byron hired the services of a boatman and spent the majority of his time on the lake. The poet stayed five months in Geneva, where he continued his passionate love affair with Claire Clairmont and his friendship with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was in Switzerland with his wife. Then Byron stayed at the Hotel de l'Ancre in Ouchy. The splendid view over the lake inspired his poem 'The Prisoner of Chillon', based on the flood of emotions he experienced after his shipwreck near the sumptuous Chillon castle. His stay in Clarens with Shelley inspired him to complete Childe Harold III. Byron also toured the surrounding area and travelled to Martigny, in the Valais, where he sojourned in two lovely inns. He then continued on his way and met up with a fellow Englishman in Sion, who accompanied him to Italy. A lakefront hotel in Villeneuve still bears his name today.

The Festival Upon the Opening of the Vintage at Macon: 1803

JMW Turner travelled through Macon in Burgundy during the grape harvest in 1802. This impressive painting supposedly depicts the festival which accompanied the harvest, but is in fact a view of the Thames from Richmond Hill.

In this work Turner echoed the style of the French 17th century artist Claude Lorraine by framing the view with trees and leading the eye through to a distant horizon. Turner challenged the idea that the landscape of Britain was not a worthy subject for high art.

The Fifth Plague of Egypt: 1800

This dark, tempestuous painting marks the rise of Turner as a full-fledged Romantic painter. Relying on vast scale, dynamic movement, and dramatic subject, and his composition appeals primarily to the emotions to communicate its message. Turner's motive for painting this canvas, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800, may have been a desire to impress British critics and viewers with his ability to handle serious themes. However, it does appear that the young painter miss titled his picture, as this canvas actually depicts the seventh plague of Egypt, when Moses stretched his arms toward heaven, and thunder, hail and fire rained on the pharaoh and his people.

The Lake of Thun Switzerland: ca 1806

Thun is one of the most original towns in Switzerland. It occupies an admirable site within view of the Bernese Alps and is much overlooked by visitors pressing on to Interlaken. With its picturesque castle and quaint medieval center Thun (pronounced toon) is well worth a visit. Beautiful views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and, closer at hand, the giant pyramidal Niesen and flat-topped Stockhorn are a gentle prelude to the Alpine vistas further south.

Lake Thun is one of the loveliest and largest lakes in Switzerland and very much appreciated by tourists and locals alike. Located within green mountains and snowy summits (namely the Jungfrau) Lake Thun presents many opportunities for water-sports and swimming. A well documented network of walking path along the Lake and above the villages in the foothills invite for activities such as hiking and mountain biking.

The Lake Petworth - Sunset Fighting Bucks: ca 1829

As Turner's originality revealed itself it alienated the aristocratic men of taste, and it was, in consequence, difficult for him to sell his pictures into the principal collections. There was, however, one among the great amateurs of the art world who extended to Turner first his patronage and later his friendship. This was George Wyndham, third Earl of Egremont. As early as 1802 he bought Ships bearing up for Anchorage, and other works year by year.

We do not know when Turner first visited Petworth, Lord Egremont's house in Sussex. In 1809 he was commissioned to paint views of the house and park, but it was not until 20 years later that he was received as a member of the family and given his own painting room with a specially constructed window. The enchantment of the place and the genial exhilaration of Lord Egremont's friendship combined to give an almost miraculous quality to the many paintings and watercolors he made there.

The Vale of Ashburnham

John ('Mad Jack') Fuller, the eccentric MP for Sussex, 1801-12, commissioned Turner to make a series of watercolors to be engraved and published as a record of the county. Turner painted thirteen finished watercolors of Fuller's house Rosehill, and the area around it, of which this is one. Engravings were made from eight of these, but only six of the engravings were published, in Part 1 of Views in Sussex (1820). For the cover of the volume, Turner made a rare attempt at etching a whole plate, composing an emblematic design incorporating a crown and armor symbolizing the Saxon defeat at the Battle of Hastings (1066). Part 2 of Views was never completed. Although this venture does not seem to have been a financial success, many prints were made from Turner's watercolors, and the British Museum owns examples of almost all of them, including the 71 prints in Turner's Liber Studiorum ('The Book of Studies', 1807-1819), modeled on Claude Lorrain's Liber Veritatis.

The watercolor shows a broad vista, very much in the manner of Claude, with the landscape receding into a soft blue distance. Martello towers line the coastline, while in the middle distance Ashburnham Place, with its park designed by 'Capability' Brown, provides a focus for the activity taking place on the estate.

Totnes in the River Dart

Transept of Ewenny Priory Glamorganshire

This dramatic view across the south transept of Ewenny Priory is based upon notes and a pencil sketch which Turner made during his 1795 tour of South Wales. This highly finished exhibition watercolor was shown at the Royal Academy in 1797 where it moved a reviewer to write: "In point of color and effect this is one of the grandest drawings we have ever seen, and equal to the best pictures of Rembrandt." The priory church of Saint Michael, Ewenny, was founded by William de Londres, Lord of Ogmore. It was built in about 1115-20 as a Benedictine foundation for a prior and ten to fifteen monks. The figure of a knight on the altar tomb at the right of the picture, is probably Sir Paganus de Turberville of Coity, a twelfth century benefactor of the Priory.

Valley of the Brook Kedron

Venice San Guirgio from the Dogana Sunrise: 1819

View from the Terrace of a Villa at Niton Isle of Wight from sketches by a lady: 1826

View over Town at Sunset a Cemetery in the Foreground: 1832

Virginia Water: ca 1829

Welsh Bridge at Shrewsbury

Weymouth Dorsetshire

What You Will: 1822


Windsor Castle from the Thames: ca 1804-06

Windsor Castle

The Royal Residences - Windsor Castle

Woolverhampton Staffordshire

The Battle of Trafalgar

The Battle of Trafalgar
An Engraving by William Miller (from JMW Turner's Painting

Battle of Trafalgar - Wikipedia

Broadside - Battle of Trafalgar

Source: Art Renewal Center

Source: Web Gallery of Art

This page is the work of Senex Magister

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