In my own art practice lately I’ve noticed that I have been doing a lot more landscape images than ever before. Landscape images were something I detested doing, I wouldn’t plan trips where that is what I would have to take, but slowly over time that has changed. I think one of the greatest landscape artists of all time was Joseph Mallord William Turner. He was a painter that did the most amazing landscapes. I have seen a couple of his paintings and the thing that I remember the most about them was the incredible detail in some of them, but also the emotion that came from them. His work was hard to walk about from.
Turner was born in 1775, but the date of his birth is unknown, and this is what Wikipedia had to say about him:
Joseph Mallord William Turner (baptised 14 May 1775 – 19 December 1851) was a British Romantic landscape painter water-colourist printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as “the painter of light” and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism. Some of his works are cited as examples of abstract art prior to its recognition in the early twentieth century.
He was such a major influence on landscape painting of the day. I don’t know all the reasons, why he changed landscape painting, though I suspect it was because of his style, he was very different to anyone else painting at that time.
Turner’s talent was recognised early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterised 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 recognised as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskin described him as the artist who could most “stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature.”
There are paintings that Turner did that resemble what many of the artists of that time were doing, though I think he will always be remembered for others scenes.
His use of colour was extraordinary. When I think of painters of that time, a dark palette comes to mind. They often painted dark scenes, but Turner changed so much of that. He used so much yellow, with touches of oranges and reds. It is like he wanted to include the sunset in many of his paintings.
I can certainly understand why he is considered a major influence for the Impression movement and there is a lot of that impressionist style in his work.
Most of us have heard of Turner and I am sure many of you have seen his paintings. I love the drama in them and the emotions that you feel when you look at them. They aren’t just pretty pictures. It is something I would dearly love to get into my photographs. We can learn so much looking at paintings. There is something in them that image makers today can appreciate. I was listening to Nature Photographer Art Wolfe the other day and he was talking about how important it is to look at the masters, and to see what they did.
If you want to read more about Turner Wikipedia have a good page on him, J.M.W. Turner, and to see more of his paintings, then Wikipedia Commons has a great page of his paintings. I have more to show you and will put them into a gallery for you.