TURNER JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM (1775-1851)
The history of the English landscape is a large and complex topic. And a special place in it is occupied by a talented artist – William Turner, whose deeply emotional art is much ahead of his time. Northumberland Coast William Turner
William Turner was born at the end of April 1775 in London. Already in childhood, the boy showed great drawing abilities. “The artist’s father proudly hung out his drawings in his barber shop and sold them for 2-3 shillings. These were first copies from then fashionable topographic views of picturesque places, castles, ruins, architectural monuments of London. The father regarded his son’s drawing lessons not as an empty entertainment, but as a pretty sure source of extra money. ” At the end of the 18th century, topographical sketches were very popular in England, then translated into engravings, illustrating all kinds of guides and descriptions. On the recommendation of some artists who noticed the talented drawings of the boy, he was admitted to the Royal Academy in December 1789.
At the academy, he attended the last lectures of Reynolds, who had a significant influence on Turner. The young artist carefully studied the masters of the past and contemporary artists. Copying other people’s works, he creatively rethought other people’s images, expressing his own vision. When he wanted to understand the achievements of some artist, instead of copying, he painted an original picture in an appropriate style.
Claude Lorren particularly admired him: “according to a contemporary, when he saw the painting“ Departure of the Queen of Sheba, ”Turner could not help crying. The artist explained his reaction by saying that he would never create anything like that. ”
When Turner was only 15 years old, one of his drawings was accepted for an exhibition at the academy. It was a watercolor “Palace of the Archbishop, Lambeth” (1790). Given that most of the buildings are located in relation to each other at different angles, the young artist deliberately chose this plot to show how well he is familiar with the laws of perspective. Such skill at such a young age is a clear testament to talent, because even for experienced artists it is not easy to convey such complex architectural relationships.
The style of work is markedly influenced by Thomas Molton, Jr., to whose students Turner defined himself on a free basis, officially studying at the School of Arts at the Royal Academy, where painting was not taught. “Molton’s influence can be seen in a clear perspective view of the buildings on the right, in the configuration and tonal resolution of the clouds, as well as in the lengthening of the figures in the foreground and the role of people in showing the nature and scale of what is happening.” Following the gaze from left to right, we see the boatman, followed by Westminster Bridge; boys playing with a hoop; the laundress heading for the Thames to do the laundry; a dandy and his fashionably dressed young companion went on an evening walk; two people are talking through a window on the side of the Swan Inn; the covered gig is probably traveling south from the gardens.
Turner chose the viewpoint so that the view opened towards the brightest part of the picture, and due to this technique, the tonal range of the scene was maximized. The ability to distribute light and shadow is already mastered by him. In the image of the building from the shadow side to the right, Turner’s observation is manifested in how the tones are distributed. Their unevenness is due to stains on the walls, as well as reflections from the old Lambeth road passing in front of them. Turner later devoted reflection analysis to one of the lectures of his annual course at the Royal Academy. And, as you can judge from this work, his interest in this topic was manifested in his early youth.
The 1792 exhibition, held by the Royal Academy, was an important milestone in Turner’s work. Here he acquired knowledge that allowed him to further achieve the breadth of the transmission of light and color, not previously known in painting. Turner was greatly impressed by the watercolor of Royal Academy Corresponding Member Michael Angelo Rucker (1746 – 1801), “The Abbey at the Battle of Hastings,” and he made two copies in the same watercolor technique (Rucker’s painting is in the collection of the Royal Academy in London, and both copies written by Turner are part of Turner’s Legacy). Ruker was able to capture the differences in masonry tones with extraordinary precision. “The richness of the spectrum of tones used by Rucker seemed to Turner extremely important. He imitated the diversity of Ruker’s tones, not only in these two copies, but also in numerous drawings made after 1792 and executed with great care. ”
The young artist took a little time to master the ability to distinguish tones and even convey their more subtle nuances than the master he imitated was able to. The technique used for this tonal variation was known as tone gradation or washing. It was based on the features of watercolor as a type of painting technique.