October 31 - JMW Turner - 'Painter of Lights'
The Fighting Temeraire being tugged to her last berth to be broken up. 1838. oil
JMW Turner is one of England's greatest painters, and one of the greatest landscape painters of the early 19th century. Though many of his great works were oils, he was a master watercolor painter, exceptionally talented in the use of light to create atmosphere - thus his nickname, 'The Painter of Light.'
He began his career in watercolors, and even used watercolor techniques to add a translucent quality to his oil paintings. By the time of his death, he created over 2,000 watercolors.
The Early Years
Turner began painting in watercolor at just eleven years of age. He began his career in architectural drawings, and his first paintings revealed that influence with precise attention to architectural and natural detail - though a need for better perspective.
But he soon mastered perspective, too, and by his early teens he was creating beautiful landscapes of the towns, countryside and people surrounding him in England.
St. John's Church, Margate. 1786. watercolor Oxford, Folly Bridge, and Bacon's Tower. 1787. watercolor
Canterbury, the West Gate, from the River Stour. 1792. watercolor
By 1894, Turner began working with oils. His effective use of light was apparent even in his first oil painting, Fishermen at Sea. His work gradually became less detailed and more atmospheric. Light and color became prominent.
Fishermen at Sea. 1796. Oil Calais Pier. 1803. Oil
Frosty Morning. 1813. Oil
The MIddle Years
Turner added historical events and figures to his landscapes. But his paintings were still dominated by the emotion of his atmospheres.
Snowstorm, Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps.1812.oil Dido Building Carthage. 1815. Oil
The Battle of Trafalgar. 1824. oil Slavers, Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying..1840. oil
The Latter Years
During his later years, Turner traveled throughout Italy and Europe, creating many of his finest mature watercolors from scenes he observed during his time in Switzerland.
Blue Rigi, Lucerne.1843.watercolor Lake of Zug. 1843. watercolor
Moonrise. La Guidecca, Venice.1829. watercolor Grand Canal Venice. 1835. Oil
His work became even less detailed. Light, color and now motion became more characteristic - more impressionism than realism.
Peace, Burial at Sea..1842. oil Rain, Steam and Speed. 1843. Oil
Sunrise.1842. watercolor Snowstorm, Steamboat off a harbor's mouth. 1842. oil
By the time of his death in 1856, Turner had become one of the most impressive landscape artists in history. His effective use of light, and original style of art influenced some of the world's finest painters for centuries to come.