Biography of Joseph Mallord William Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English landscape painter who is renowned especially for his dynamic treatment of natural light effects in land and marine subjects. His work is of direct importance in the development of impressionism. Turner was born in London on April 23, 1775, and educated at the Royal Academy of Arts. At the age of 15 he exhibited his paintings at the academy and continued to show his work there until 1850. He was elected an associate of the academy in 1799 and a full member three years later. He traveled widely throughout his career, extensively touring England and Scotland and later France, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1807 he became professor of perspective at the Royal Academy and in 1845 was appointed deputy professor.
Turner's early paintings were predominantly watercolors and his subjects mostly landscapes. By the late 1790s he had started exhibiting his first oil paintings, eventually transferring to the oils the same vibrance of color that had proved so successful in his watercolors. His mature work falls into three periods.
During the first period (1800-20) Turner painted many picturesque mythological and historical scenes in which the coloring was subdued and details and contours were emphasized. He was influenced by the 17th-century French landscape painter Claude Lorrain, notably in the use of atmospheric effects, as in The Sun Rising Through Vapor, and in the treatment of architectural forms, as in Dido Building Carthage.
The paintings of the artist's second period are characterized by more brilliant coloring and by diffusion of light. In two of Turner's best works, Bay of Baiae and Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus, his use of light lends radiance to the colors and softens architectural and topographical forms and shadows.
Turner's artistic genius reached its culmination during his third period. In such works as Snow Storm: Steam Boat Off a Harbor's Mouth , Peace-Burial at Sea , and Rain, Steam, and Speed, he achieved a vibrant sense of force by presenting objects as indistinct masses within a glowing haze of color. Some of the forces represented are the strength of the sea and the rhythm of rain. Other famous works of this period include The Fighting Téméraire, The Sun of Venice Going to Sea, and The Approach to Venice. Turner died in London on December 19, 1851.
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