Art enthusiasts and people in search of a cultural day out in London, Tate Britain will be home to the JMW Turner exhibition for a few more days. The popular exhibition is well worth a visit but be warned, it is busy and likely to be busier than normal on its closing weekend.
Turner led an unusual life riddled with bad health, family problems and was often the subject of ridicule within the art world. He is now considered one of the greats to have blessed the canvas and is seen as having been well ahead of his time, prompting the birth of impressionism.
Turner was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, in London, England. His father, William Turner was a barber and wig maker and his mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of butchers. He was sent to live with his uncle as a sickly child and it is there that he first began to paint landscapes. He went on to gain early admission to the Royal Academy of Art at 14 years old.
Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year. You can see the inspiration in his oil paintings that resemble the grandeur of the Rubens in the Louvre. He became known for his radical watercolour paintings and his commanding oil works and was a big part of the 18-19th centuary romanticism movement.
Turner was a controversial figure in his day and as he grew older, he became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for 30 years and worked as his studio assistant. His father’s death in 1829 had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression. In the 15 years before his death, Turner visited Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France producing around 19,000 drawings. He died in 1851 a famous and wealthy man and left most of his £140,000 fortune to a charity for “decayed artists,”
The exhibition also coincides with the realise of the biographical film, fittingly titled Turner currently showing in cinemas nationwide. It explores the artist’s love, loses and depression, giving an incite into how and why his masterpieces came into fruition.