Saturday, 20 August 2016

William Turner I

For those of you who are in doubt if they should join the trip to the Turner exhibition in Aix: GO! It will inspire you... Here's a 2012 Aquarellista blogpost about his life... The trip is on 16 September, by comfortable bus and the cost is only 45€ for Hangar members! 
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William Turner (Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 - 1851) was an English watercolourist, a predecessor Aquarellista! In the next post I'll write a bit about his style, in this one more about his life.

Turner was born into a middle-class family in London. His father was a wig-maker and barber. His mother died while he was quite young. William Turner was sent to live in the countryside with relatives who soon discovered that he was very talented: he painted this castle when he was 10 years old:
Unbelievable... he could definitely observe...

He joined the Royal Academy of Art at the age of 14 - and, surprise surprise, he excelled. He left London in 1798 "with little more than a borrowed pony and pencils" and started painting a series of landscapes around Wales...
This work he made as a 23-year-old in his Hereford Court sketchbook. It fetched up £500,000 at a Christie’s auction...

Turner had success and made a fortune when he was quite young. That gave himl the opportunity to innovate freely.
Young William Turner - selfportrait as a bit of a dandy

Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year.
He also made many visits to Venice

As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. His paintings changed in style and his audience struggled to understand his vision. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for thirty years, eventually working as his studio assistant.
Old William Turner - in his atelier

And the atelier once more - look again - and you'll see how impressive  it is... especially if you realize that this was painted in the 19th century!

William Turner died on 19 December 1851 and lies buried in St Paul's Cathedral. He left his money to support what he called "decayed artists". He designed an almshouse for them at Twickenham, with a gallery for some of his works. But some relatives contested the will and part of his fortune was awarded to the family. The rest went to the Royal Academy of Arts who still from time to time award students the Turner Medal...

NB: I have used pictures from the Turner special in the Figaro - to have a look inside, borrow it from me or order via

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