Turner, Joseph Mallord William

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

Joseph Mallord William Turner was one of England's greatest landscape painters. He was born in London on April 23, 1775, the son of a barber. He began to draw at an early age. By the time he was 14, he was accepted into the painting school of the Royal Academy.

Turner liked to be alone, and he loved nature. He would sit by the water or in the woods for hours, staring and memorizing. He painted what he remembered—not exact details but impressions. By the age of 24, he was a successful artist.

Turner traveled throughout Britain, painting picturesque scenes, but the countryside was not varied enough for him. He wanted to paint nature at its boldest and most dramatic. So he traveled abroad. He loved the sea and the colors of the sea. Once, during a storm, he was strapped to the mast of a ship so that he could study the angry waves.

After a trip to Italy in 1819, Turner changed his style of painting. He could now afford to paint only for himself and to experiment. He paid little attention to objects and began trying to depict atmosphere and light. He painted sky and water bathed in light or blown by wind. His paintings suggest the work of the later French impressionists. Turner died in London on December 19, 1851.

Herbert B. Grimsditch
Fleetway Publications (London)

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