J.M.W. Turner was a painter whose treatment of light put him squarely in the pantheon of the world’s preeminent artists, but his character was a tangle of fascinating contradictions. While he could be coarse and rude, manipulative, ill-mannered, and inarticulate, he was also generous, questioning, and humane, and he displayed through his work a hitherto unrecognized optimism about the course of human progress. With two illegitimate daughters and several mistresses whom Turner made a career of not including in his public life, the painter was also known for his entrepreneurial cunning, demanding and receiving the highest prices for his work.
Over the course of sixty years, Turner traveled thousands of miles to seek out the landscapes of England and Europe. He was drawn overwhelmingly to coasts, to the electrifying rub of the land with the sea, and he regularly observed their union from the cliff, the beach, the pier, or from a small boat. Fueled by his prodigious talent, Turner revealed to himself and others the personality of the British and European landscapes and the moods of the surrounding seas. He kept no diary, but his many sketchbooks are intensely autobiographical, giving clues to his techniques, his itineraries, his income and expenditures, and his struggle to master the theories of perspective.
In Turner, James Hamilton takes advantage of new material discovered since the 1975 bicentennial celebration of the artist’s birth, paying particular attention to the diary of sketches with which Turner narrated his life. Hamilton’s textured portrait is fully complemented by a sixteen-page illustrations insert, including many color reproductions of Turner’s most famous landscape paintings. Seamlessly blending vibrant biography with astute art criticism, Hamilton writes with energy, style, and erudition to address the contradictions of this great artist.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Turner|
|Release Date: 03-12-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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maiden lane and brentford
William Turner, the baby's father, had rural, distant roots. He had come, no more than ten years earlier, from the deep west of England, from the small country town of South Molton, at the foot of Exmoor, in Devon. His own father, John Turner, had been a wigmaker and barber in South Molton, and one of sufficient status to be entrusted with the care and teaching of boy apprentices by the church wardens and the justices of the peace of the parish. When John Turner died, in 1762, he left tidy provision for his wife and seven children. Two sons at least, John and William, were grown up by this time. The eldest son, John the younger, was bequeathed all of his father's working tools; his best suit, hat, and wig; and a guinea, with the expectation that he would follow in his father's footsteps. In the event it appears that John Turner the younger became a saddler and, later, a wool comber and poorhouse guardian. William, who was born in 1745, received only "my white coat" and a guinea payable when he became twenty-one. The five other children-Eleanor, Price, Mary, Joshua, and Jonathan-were also bequeathed a guinea each, payment to be delayed until their twenty-first birthdays. South Molton was suffering a serious population decline in the late 1760s and early 1770s, through the gradual weakening of the market for the heavy cloths, such as serges and felts, that were a specialty of the town. This may have been the spur that prompted William to take his white coat with the guinea in its pocket and make for London. He settled just off Covent Garden and, following his father's example, set up in business as a barber and wigmak