Joseph Mallord William Turner was a British Romantic period landscape painter, water-colourist and printmaker. He is considered to be a controversial figure, but some regard him as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence equal to that of history painting. Although he is most renowned for his OIL paintings, he is also considered to be one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is called the “painter of light” and his work is thought of to be the Romantic precedent to Impressionism. Some of his works are cited as examples of abstract art prior to its recognition in the early 20th century.
When he was about 10, he was sent to stay with his maternal uncle Joseph Mallord William Marshall in Brentford, a small town on the River Thames west of London. He made a couple of colourings on engraved plates from Henry Boswell’s works. Around when he was 11, he went to Margate near Kent where he made a series of drawings of the town and the surrounding area foreshadowing his later work. His drawings were then displayed and sold in his father’s shop for a few shillings each. Later when he was 14 he again went to his uncle, and made a whole sketchbook of work of his time in Sunningwell. He also made a watercolour of Oxford. The use of pencil sketches on location is said to be used as a basis for later paintings.
He traveled widely in Europe, such as in France with the Louvre and in Switzerland. Support for his work was chiefly in the form of Walter Ramsden Fawkes who was a close friend of Joseph’s. He first met Joseph when Turner was 22 and commissioned him to paint watercolours of the area. He also had support in the form of George O’Brien Wyndham who was the 3rd Earl of Egremont.
Joseph was very lucky. Financial independence allowed him to create freely, and his talent was recognized early in life. His subject matter was mostly found in shipwrecks, fires, natural catastrophes, and the sea. He did some printmaking as...