TURNER: Painting Romantic Landscapes

Fonthill Abbey in WiltshireEngland J. M. W. Turner

It is only when we are no longer fearful that we begin to create. 

That is what Master artist JMW Turner believed. Yes, the artistic impulse and the sense of liberty are tween sisters. Turner's belief was converted into reality through the boldness he had shown in his paintings.

An Artist's Journey:  Look what he had done. You know how difficult it is to arrange an exhibition of one's artwork. It is really very hard to even for an established artist. But can you imagine a teenager boy who had exhibited his landscapes? Yes. The boy would be called Joseph Mallord William Turner in his life. He was a British painter of romantic landscapes. He was born in London, in the year, 1775. In the period when Turner and John Sargent were doing paintings, the medium of watercolours was the popular medium. Turner had produced a wonderful collection of both watercolour and oil paintings. These paintings had become part of British identity for the art in that era. The man who had never lost his workman's accent was the wealthiest artist of his time when he died in 1951. 

Clare Hall and King’s College Chapel, Cambridge,
from the Banks of the River Cam Oil on canvas 
J. M. W. Turner
Yale Center for British Art New Haven, Connecticut

It was the time of romanticism in art. it was the time of wars in Europe. Late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The French revolution was in its final boil. Hence the British people and artists turned their eyes towards their own land and landscapes. Otherwise, they would have packed their luggage and gone to see Italy and France. Switzerland was the most favoured piece of land for the artists. Instead, they started creating local taste. The artist in Turner was ready to fulfil the desire of the viewers' eyes. He painted British landscapes, which were mostly untouched until then. Turner laboured hard to establish British art at that point in time. His labour succeeded. Surprisingly, Turner got active help from his father. Mr Turner Senior would grind the pigment and mix the colours for Mr Turner Junior. Many canvases painted by Turner are prepared by his father. What a great help!

The Battle of Trafalgar J. M. W. Turner Oil on Canvas
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

War Scene Painting 

Once British Navy Nelson won the great Trafalgar battle in 1805, the fear of war had subsided. The travel hurdles were decreased. Then Turner travelled a lot: in Briton and in European countries. He always remained eager for newer subjects. He had a strange habit of travelling on foot. He would carry his sketchbook and papers and drawing materials. He actually painted outdoors. That foot-walker had changed the British art-field. Turner believed and said once that: I do not paint so that people will understand me, I paint to show what a particular scene looks like. Yes, that is what every great artist does. Being faithful to the reality in his or her surrounding; being faithful to his or her understanding about the scene. Turner had cultivated mastery over both of these concepts. His innovative method had become a new path for contemporary artists in Europe.

The ArtistsPaintings depicting effects of light. One of the greatest artists of the nineteenth century, Joseph Mallord William Turner, was a British painter. It was a time when Britain lagged behind the artists of other European countries like France and Italy. But with the rise of the flood of Turner's paintings, the British art got a required stimulation and due recognition.

Turner's landscape paintings are masterpieces of all the time. He mainly painted his artworks in watercolour. After Turner’s work became famous, the art of watercolour painting got its due share of fame, equal to the ‘history paintings’. He had bestowed such a credit to the artworks done in watercolour.

The Art: Turner, a son of a wig-maker, was born in London on 23rd April 1775. He died on December 19, 1851. When a landscape painter like Turner wants painting a landscape, he or she desires to create a harmonious relationship between the vast canvass of Mother Earth and the palates in his or her hand. The element of the beauty of nature is the starting point for landscape paintings. The painting might be coming being filtered from the memories of a painter. In landscape painting, a falling of rain, reflection of trees in the water of a pond or a splash of light piercing from the fog could be a great subject for the artwork.

In the history of European art, the name of Turner is a glittering one. He was the artist who really competed with the work of the master artists along with his contemporaries. He was considered a worthy rival to most of the European painters. He had made some oil paintings that could claim to be kept alongside the old masters of the art of paintings; such was turner's deep study of those master artists' works done during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The above painting is one of the best artworks done by Turner. Here the artist keeps in mind trying to recreate the feel and smell of the earth. If the artists succeed in doing so, then the resultant artwork would be a piece that would depict the reality that was before the artist’s eyes. 

Petworth Park: Tillington Church in the background
J. M. W. Turner        Tate Gallery London

When a painter puts his or her colours on canvas for making a landscape in mind, the final artwork would be like a visual poem. It would be like a visual statement of the emotions felt by the artist. Painters of landscape generally choose subjects involving everyday objects that provide the inspiration to express the joy of light, colour and shape. In addition to the celebration of the beauty of Mother Earth, the landscape paintings explore colour harmony and the pattern of the process of painting that peels back every layer of human feelings. 

The Grand Canal, Venice J. M. W. Turner
Metro Politan Museum Art, New York City 

When an artist goes on tour, he or she keeps three things in the pocket: Paint, brushes, and the heart. Turner did the same. When he went to Venice, he had painted a series of paintings. One of these wonderful landscapes and seascapes is the above painting. Grand Canal of Venice has remained one of the most alluring subjects for the artists who cannot resist the wonderful architecture set behind and the pleasant sky with ever-changing beauty. Here in this painting, Turner had carefully planned and painted the scene from a wonderful angle.

Turner had the biggest collection of paintings. He would paint three or four watercolours at a time. He did it so the temptation to change a painting would not be indulging before the colour is sufficiently dry!!! His oil paintings are the real treasure of the British Museum and world art. [All the paintings are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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