Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 11:15 PM
Turner first built his reputation with dramatic sea-pictures like Calais Pier, and the violence of the elements held a life-long fascination for him, inspiring such masterpieces as Hannibal in the Alps. A gentler aspect of Turner's art his experimentation with delicate effects of light and atmosphere is illustrated by a later painting, Norham Castle, Sunrise.
The abstract, unfinished quality of this bemused Turner's contemporaries. But the patriotic Fighting Temeraire, painted for exhibition at the Royal Academy, was universally admired, although the critics noticed that Turner's colour was becoming more dramatic and symbolic.
From 1840, light and colour became the real subject-matter of Turner's paintings. His atmospheric views of Venice show why the city had been called 'the birthplace and theatre of colour'. And in Rockets and Blue Lights, Turner's extravagant use of blues and yellows proved quite shocking. The critics were never sure whether to applaud or deplore his originality.
Side by side with these imposing oil paintings, Turner made an enormous number of water colours. The quiet intimacy of a work like Dawn after the Wreck contrasts markedly with the dynamism of Rain, Steam and Speed, one of Turner's late masterpieces. Here, Turner has transformed a personal experience into an imaginative vision.
This picture of the cross-channel ferry arriving at Calais was based on Turner's own experience of a hair-raising landing on his journey to the continent in 1802 his first visit abroad. He recorded the whole episode in the sketchbook, with an inscription reading: 'Our landing at Calais.
The legendary exploits of Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who marched across the Alps to attack ancient Rome, were a popular theme for Romantic painters. But for this picture Turner's inspiration came from nature, not history he had witnessed a violent snow storm in Yorkshire a year or two before.
The castle itself on a cliff overlooking the river Tweed on the Scottish border can scarcely be seen in this painting. It appears in the distance as a hazy blue mass, seen dimly through the mists of a pale yellow sunrise. The painting is as delicate as a water-colour, but may not in fact be finished, since Turner never exhibited it.
From the day of its first exhibition, this has been one of Turner's most popular paintings, as much for its patriotic sentiments as for its blazing pictorial splendour. The picture shows the Temeraire a famous warship being towed up the Thames to a breaker's yard. The ship in full sail in the background recalls the Temeraire own days of glory, and the black buoy looming in the foreground suggests the finality of this last, melancholy journey.
Turner was 65 when he painted this view of Venice. It combines strict architectural accuracy with poetic colouring the buildings shimmer magically in a silver haze beyond the golden reflections of the fagot.
Danger at sea was a constant inspiration here Turner shows a stormswept beach, lit by dazzling yellow flares and blue lights which warn a passing steamship to steer clear of sandbanks.
The title of this small water-colour suggests a scene of devastation, but there is no sign of wreckage on the beach. The drama of the night is over, and the sea is almost calm after a terrible storm. Only a dog, howling under the sickle moon, mourns the ship's loss.
Turner prepared for this picture of an early steam train on the Great Western Railway in a typically thorough way: he stuck his head out of a train window for ten minutes during a storm. They were crossing a bridge, and a boat can be seen on the river below.