Saturday, February 14, 2009

JMW Turner Lecture Part II

This picture is a product of Turner's journey to the west of England in summer 1811 and was exhibited at the artist's private gallery in 1812. Saltash is in Cornwall, across the Tamar River from Devonport and Plymouth. Ruskin described the painting in a letter of 1852 as "what the mind sees when it looks for poetry in humble actual life." The sky is damaged, but the lower half of the painting is well preserved..... read more



Happy Valentine's Day! I am finally on the mend and looking forward to getting things back in order. It's amazing how quickly things pile up when you're sick!


As promised here is the next installment of my report from the Galleries in Motion lecture on JMW Turner I attended last week, given by Joy Pepe, professor emeritus of Lyme Academy College of Fine Art and former curatorial assistant at the Yale Center for British Art.


In the previous post I enumerated some of the differences in intent between Turner and the later Impressionist painters. Today I'm going to focus on a similarity.


One of the things the Impressionists were known for was rejecting the government sponsored salon and organizing their own shows as commercial ventrues. They pooled their money, rented space, had handbills printed, advertised their shows and sold directly to the public.


Turner did something very similar. He had a private gallery through which he sold his paintings directly to patrons bypassing the Royal Academy. A very bold move for a young artist. His gallery had Indian red walls, with paintings hung tightly in columns, floor to ceiling, salon style. Lighting was installed high above the paintings and directed downwards and the lights were covered with tissue paper to diffuse the brightness in an effort to show his paintings with their own smokey, hazy, indistinct atmosphere off to best advantage.


Another interesting thing I learned during the lecture was that Turner began including lines from poetry, for example Milton and Byron, along with the title to his paintings in the Royal Academy catalogs. He also wrote his own poetry. Lines from his lifelong, on going work, Fallacies of Hope, often accompanied his paintings.


The Metropolitian Museum has a very interesting article on Turner that explores this a little more.
Tomorrow we look at Turners painting methods and techniques.

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