Joseph Mallord William Turner

“It’s all about atmospherics, not finicky topographical description. Because that was what Britain was for Turner, a biological sentiment, an instinct in the blood, an irresistibly operatic arrangement of light, air, and water – elemental, heroic, legendary.”
Simon Schama (The Power of Art, BBC)

J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851)
Self Portrait from c. 1799 (Tate Galley, London)

Self-Portrait c.1799 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

“But even as he drifted through his home county’s Eden, Turner must have been aware that alongside this idyll there was another England, an England in distress. And something in Turner wanted to paint that England too.”

“A British art that will act out the suffering of victims.”

“Though almost all of his critics believed that the “Slavers” [“The Slave Ship”, originally “Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon coming on”] represented an all time low in Turner’s reckless disregard for the rules of art, it was in fact his greatest triumph in the sculptural carving of space.”

Simon Schama (The Power of Art, BBC)

The Slave Ship from 1840 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)


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