Two hundred and forty-two years ago today, near Covent Garden a little boy was born and called John, and given the extra names of Mallord and William as well as a surname of Turner; yes, today is the birthday of J.M.W.Turner.
He’s described as an artist of the Romantic Movement, along with such contemporaries as Delacroix, Constable, Gericault and Friedrich and he entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1789 when he was only fourteen. He started as mostly a landscape painter, influenced and inspired by other contemporary artists, but as new technology such as steam engines became more common his fascination with them led to some amazing pictures such as ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ and ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’. He was much criticised for his style at the time, but today when we look at his work it seems extraordinarily modern. His eye was extraordinary, and the way he captured the sea in all its states, and the light and the sky, was just extraordinary.
He was certainly an eccentric man, but an absolute genius… if you haven’t caught the film about him, Mr. Turner by Mike Leigh then I really recommend it – a storming performance from the always excellent Timothy Spall.
Have a look at the Tate gallery’s biography of him:
My featured image is from Margate where Turner spent a great deal of time; it’s a representation of Mrs Booth by Ann Carrington; Mrs Booth was Turner’s landlady with whom he had a loving relationship for many years.