English Romantic Painter, Watercolorist & Draftsman
1775 - 1851
Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolorist and printmaker, whose style can be said to have laid the foundation for Impressionism. Although Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, he is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivaling history painting.
Turner was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, England. His father, William Gay Turner (27 January 1738 - 7 August 1829), was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, became increasingly mentally unstable, perhaps, in part, due to the early death of Turner's younger sister, Helen Turner, in 1786. She died in 1804, after having been committed to a mental asylum in 1799.
Possibly due to the load placed on the family by these problems, the young Turner was sent to stay with his uncle on his mother's side in Brentford in 1785, which was then a small town west of London on the banks of the River Thames. It was here that he first expressed an interest in painting. A year later he went to school in Margate on the north-east Kent coast. By this time he had created many drawings, which his father exhibited in his shop window.
He entered the Royal Academy of Art Schools in 1789, when he was only 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy at the time, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to keep to painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick (Junior). A watercolor of Turner's was accepted for the Summer Exhibition of 1790 after only one year's study. He exhibited his first oil painting in 1796, Fishermen at Sea, and thereafter exhibited at the academy nearly every year for the rest of his life.
Although renowned for his oils, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolor landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light".
One of his most famous oil paintings is 'The fighting Temeraire' tugged to her last berth to be broken up, painted in 1838, which hangs in the National Gallery, London.
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. On a visit to Lyme Regis, in Dorset, England, he painted a stormy scene (now in the Cincinnati Art Museum).
Important support for his works also came from Walter Ramsden Fawkes, of Farnley Hall, near Otley in Yorkshire, who became a close friend of the artist. Turner first visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolors of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned time and time again. The stormy backdrop of 'Hannibal Crossing The Alps' is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over Otley's Chevin while Turner was staying at Farnley Hall.
Turner was also a frequent guest of George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont at Petworth House in West Sussex and painted scenes from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside, including a view of the Chichester Canal that Egremont funded. Petworth House still displays a number of paintings.
As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for thirty years, eventually working 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. He never married, although he had two daughters by Sarah Danby, one born in 1801, the other in 1811.
He died in the house of his mistress Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea on 19 December 1851. He is said to have uttered the last words "The sun is God" before expiring. At his request he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.
The architect Philip Hardwick (1792-1870) who was a friend of Turner's and also the son of the artist's tutor, Thomas Hardwick, was one in charge of his funeral arrangements and wrote to those who knew Turner to tell them at the time of his death that "I must inform you, we have lost him".
Turner's talent was recognized early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterized by a chromatic palette and broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint. According to David Piper's The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called "fantastic puzzles. " However, Turner was still recognized as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskin described Turner as the artist who could most "stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature."
Suitable vehicles for Turner's imagination were to be found in the subjects of shipwrecks, fires (such as the Burning of Parliament in 1834, an event which Turner rushed to witness first-hand, and which he transcribed in a series of watercolor sketches), natural catastrophes, and natural phenomena such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He was fascinated by the violent power of the sea, as seen in 'Dawn after the Wreck' (1840) and 'The Slave Ship' (1840).
Turner placed human beings in many of his paintings to indicate his affection for humanity on the one hand (note the frequent scenes of people drinking and merry-making or working in the foreground), but its vulnerability and vulgarity amid the 'sublime' nature of the world on the other hand. 'Sublime' here means awe-inspiring, savage grandeur, a natural world un-mastered by man, evidence of the power of God - a theme that artists and poets were exploring in this period. The significance of light was to Turner the emanation of God's spirit and this was why he refined the subject matter of his later paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, concentrating on the play of light on water, the radiance of skies and fires. Although these late paintings appear to be 'impressionistic' and therefore a forerunner of the French school, Turner was striving for expression of spirituality in the world, rather than responding primarily to optical phenomena.
His early works, such as 'Tintern Abbey' (1795), stayed true to the traditions of English landscape. However, in 'Hannibal Crossing the Alps' (1812), an emphasis on the destructive power of nature had already come into play. His distinctive style of painting, in which he used watercolor technique with oil paints, created lightness, fluency, and ephemeral atmospheric effects.
One popular story about Turner, though it likely has little basis in reality, states that he even had himself "tied to the mast of a ship in order to experience the drama" of the elements during a storm at sea.
In his later years he used oils ever more transparently, and turned to an evocation of almost pure light by use of shimmering color. A prime example of his mature style can be seen in 'Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway', where the objects are barely recognizable. The intensity of hue and interest in evanescent light not only placed Turner's work in the vanguard of English painting, but later exerted an influence upon art in France, as well; the Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet, carefully studied his techniques.
Once again Turner relies on Claude for the diagonal recession from foreground to a vanishing point at the centre of the picture. The aims of the two artists, however, are very different. The exaggeratedly steep foreshortening of the viaduct along which our eye hurtles to the horizon is used to suggest the speed at which the locomotive irrupts into view through the driving rain, headlight blazing. Ahead of it, disproportionately large, a hare proverbially swiftest of all animals bounds across the tracks; we doubt if it will win the race and escape with its life. A skiff is on the river far beneath, and in the distance a ploughman stoically turns his furrow. Virtuoso swirls and slashes, and smears and sprays of paint, simulate rain, steam and speed to blur these figures of the old countryside.
Exhilaration and regret are mingled with alarm; in a second we must leap aside to let the iron horse roar by.
It has been suggested that the high levels of ash in the atmosphere during the 1816 'Year Without a Summer', which led to unusually spectacular sunsets during this period, were an inspiration for some of Turner's work.
John Ruskin says in his "Notes" on Turner in March 1878, that an early patron, Dr Thomas Monro, the Principal Physician of Bedlam, was a significant influence on Turner's style:
The first American to buy a Turner painting was James Lenox of New York City, a private collector, Lenox wished to own a Turner and in 1845 bought one unseen through an intermediary, his friend C. R. Leslie. From among the paintings Turner had on hand and was willing to sell for £500, Leslie selected and shipped the 1832 atmospheric seascape 'Staffa, Fingal's Cave'. Worried about the painting's reception by Lenox, who knew Turner's work only through his etchings, Leslie wrote Lenox that the quality of Staffa, "a most poetic picture of a steam boat" would become apparent in time. Upon receiving the painting Lenox was baffled, and "greatly disappointed" by what he called the painting's "indistinctness". When Leslie was forced to relay this opinion to Turner, Turner said "You should tell Mr. Lenox that indistinctness is my fault." Staffa, Fingal's Cave is currently owned by the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut.
Turner left a small fortune which he hoped would be used to support what he called "decayed artists". Part of the money went to the Royal Academy of Arts, which does not now use it for this purpose, though occasionally it awards students the Turner Medal. His collection of finished paintings was bequeathed to the British nation, and he intended that a special gallery would be built to house them. This did not come to pass owing to a failure to agree on a site, and then to the parsimony of British governments. Twenty-two years after his death, the British Parliament passed an Act allowing his paintings to be lent to museums outside London, and so began the process of scattering the pictures which Turner had wanted to be kept together. In 1910 the main part of the Turner Bequest, which includes unfinished paintings and drawings, was re-housed in the Duveen Turner Wing at the Tate Gallery. In 1987 a new wing of the Tate, the Clore Gallery, was opened specifically to house the Turner bequest, though some of the most important paintings in it remain in the National Gallery in contravention of Turner's condition that the finished pictures be kept and shown together.
In 1974, the Turner Museum was founded in the USA by Douglass Montrose-Graem to house his collection of Turner prints.
A prestigious annual art award, the Turner Prize, created in 1984, was named in Turner's honor, but has become increasingly controversial, having promoted art which has no apparent connection with Turner's. Twenty years later the more modest Winsor & Newton Turner Watercolor Award was founded.
A major exhibition, "Turner's Britain", with material, (including 'The Fighting Temeraire') on loan from around the globe, was held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 7 November 2003 to 8 February 2004.
In 2005, Turner's The Fighting Temeraire was voted Britain's "greatest painting" in a public poll organized by the BBC.
In October 2005 Professor Harold Livermore, its owner for 60 years, gave 'Sandycombe Lodge, the Villa at Twickenham' which Turner designed and built for himself, to the Sandycombe Lodge Trust to be preserved as a monument to the artist. In 2006 he additionally gave some land to the Trust which had been part of Turner's domaine. The organization The Friends of Turner's House was formed in 2004 to support it.
In April 2006, Christie's New York auctioned 'Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute' and 'San Giorgio, a View of Venice' exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841, for US$35.8 million, setting a new record for a Turner. The New York Times stated that according to two sources who had requested anonymity the buyer was casino magnate Stephen Wynn.
In 2006, Turner's 'Glaucus and Scylla' (1840) was returned by Kimbell Art Museum to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffe after a Holocaust Claim was made. The painting was repurchased by the Kimbell for $5.7 million at a sale by Christie's in April of 2007.
Turner composes the scene, which he worked on in ca 1819, like a stage set, and contrasts the grand backdrop of the hospital with the crush of tenements and shops to either side. He takes considerable interest in the figures in the foreground, which include street traders, peddlers, and a group pushing a cart of coals uphill, many of whom wear tartan plaid. Particular care has also been taken over the jumble of objects at the right. Near them is a sign which appears to read 'English School' - this may be intended as an ironic reference to Turner's status as an English artist visiting Scotland.
Peace is more than a farewell to a friend: it signals approval for the exemplary harmony in which Wilkie had lived. Its companion piece is a warning and a rebuke. It is characteristic of the painter's mental state - his basic belief was formed by deism - that the painting he called Peace depicts a burial: that of his famous fellow painter David Wilkie.
Ulysses and his companions, according to Homer,' in order to escape from the Cyclops, heated his great staff and put out his one eye. The fire of the Greek-is seen under the cliff on the left hand. In front is the gorgeous galley of Ulysses. With its masts crowded with Greeks glorying in the discomfiture of: the giant who, a grand misty shape of suffering, is seen on the top of the hill, raising his hand in anguish or rage. Nothing can exceed the magnificence of the morning sky, with the sun rising behind bars of crimson and leaden blue. Mr. Ruskin says of this picture that "the burnished glow upon the sea, and the breezy stir in the blue darkness about the base of the cliffs, and the noble space of receding sky, vaulted with its lines of cloudy gold, and the upper peaks of the snowy Sicilian promontory, are all as perfect and as great as human work can be."
Turner visited North Wales in 1798 and made a number of paintings and drawings of the castle. This is an oil sketch; Turner exhibited a large finished watercolor of the same scene at the Royal Academy in 1799.
Turner's picture is based on a real-life event. In 1802 he took his first trip abroad via Calais. On a sketch for this picture he noted that the seas had been so rough he was 'nearly swamped'.
The picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803. Like a number of Turner's pictures it was not well received, and was thought unfinished in the foreground.
Turner's picture is based on a real-life event. In 1802 he took his first trip abroad via Calais. On a sketch for this picture he noted that the seas had been so rough he was 'nearly swamped'.
The picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803. Like a number of Turner's pictures it was not well received, and was thought unfinished in the foreground.
The Welsh landscape exerted a strong hold on Joseph Mallord William Turner, and he made several sketching trips there in the 1790's. In this early Romantic painting, Turner represented the dramatic effects of natural light, allowing sunshine breaking through the clouds to illuminate the castle and the coast beyond.
The artist exhibited two large oils, 'Crossing the Brook' and 'Dido Building Carthage', at the Royal Academy in 1815. Despite the different scale of ambition that seems to mark their titles and subjects, an idyllic English scene could also be a grand history painting, to be shown at the season which marked Britain's final victory over Napoleon. The large vertical landscape was well received, and praised by most. Not everyone liked it, however: Sir George Beaumont, the artist's enemy, characterized it as 'weak and like the work of an Old man, one who had no longer saw or felt color properly; it was all of peagreen insipidity'. Contemporary viewers may disagree with his sour verdict. Crossing the brook is a masterpiece of nineteenth-century landscape, which encapsulates local and national views of ideal Classical painting. It presents these views in a grand yet succinct form. In 1815 Turner summed up the hopes of a war-weary Britain in this naturalized Claudean landscape of observed incident and eternal pleasure.
As in Dido building Carthage, the underlying compositional structure matches the central dramatic sensibility of the work.
Nota Bene: Remember that Turner's theme should be considered in historic terms with the defeat of Napoleon and the impact of empire and war can ever have on any society.
About 800 BC the Phoenicians established Carthage on the edge of a region in North Africa that is now Tunisia. The city became the commercial center of the western Mediterranean and retained that position until overthrown by Rome.
According to tradition, Queen Dido founded Carthage after she fled from Tyre. The inhabitants there agreed to give her as much land as she could encompass with a single ox hide. By cutting the hide into thin strips, Dido was able to enclose a large area. It was near Carthage, according to Virgil's 'Aeneid', that Aeneas was shipwrecked.
Carthage lay on a bay. Its Phoenician settlers were seafarers and traders. Aided by slave labor they built wharves, markets, and factories. Carthage grew rich and strong, with colonies in North Africa, in Spain, and on the Mediterranean islands.
Powerful Rome, over a period of a hundred years, defeated Carthage in the Punic Wars. The first, fought in Sicily from 264 to 241 BC, cost Carthage Sicily and a large indemnity.
In the second Punic War, from 218 to 201 BC, the general Hannibal crossed Spain and southern France with his war elephants and climbed over the Alps, an almost unbelievable exploit, to defeat the Romans at Cannae. After he was recalled to Africa, he lost at Zama, and Carthage was forced to withdraw from Spain.
Rome won the third Punic War, fought from 149 to 146 BC, in spite of a heroic resistance in which Carthaginian women cut off their hair to provide bowstrings for the catapults. Carthage was burned.
The emperor Augustus later built a new city on the site. This became a Roman seat of government in Africa. When the Vandals overran the region, Carthage was made their capital. It was destroyed again after its capture in AD 647 by the Arabs.
On the edge of a region in North Africa that is now Tunisia. The city became the commercial center of the western Mediterranean and retained that position until overthrown by Rome.
Punic Wars, Three major wars between Rome and Carthage resulting in the subjugation of Carthage and Rome's acquisition of territories beyond the Italian Peninsula. First war (264-241 BC) was probably brought on by the desire for military aggrandizement by the Roman Nobiles. Its immediate cause was a conflict between the Mamertini and forces from Syracuse, on Sicily. Both Carthage and Rome responded to the Mamertini request for aid, and soon after were at war with one another. The Romans built a great fleet, defeated the Carthaginians at the Battle of Mylae (260), and launched an ill-fated invasion of Africa in which the commander, Regulus, was captured (255) by Greek mercenaries. On Sicily, the Carthaginian commander Hamilcar Barca succeeded in thwarting the Romans' attempt at decisive victory. However, the Roman fleet finally destroyed the Carthaginian fleet in the naval battle of Aegates (241) and thereby forced the Carthaginians to accept peace. Rome gained Carthaginian territories on Sicily. Not long after, Rome also annexed Sardinia and Corsica. Second War (218-201 BC) between Rome and Carthage, sparked by the Carthaginians' conquest of Saguntum, a Spanish city loosely associated with Rome. In the years after the first war, Carthage had greatly expanded its holdings in Spain. With the outbreak of war, the great Carthaginian general Hannibal led his forces on the now famous march from Spain, across the Alps, and into north Italy. He won notable victories at Ticinus (218), Trebia (218), Lake Trasimenus (217) and Cannae (216), but failed to take Rome itself. Although Hannibal gained control of much of southern Italy, Carthage failed to provide him needed support. Finally, the Roman invasion of North Africa by Scipio Africanus Major (204) forced Hannibal to return to Carthage. He was defeated at the Battle of Zama (202), and Carthage itself fell (201). Carthage had to give up its navy and its Spanish territories and never again seriously threatened Roman military superiority. Third War (149-146 BC) between Rome and Carthage, resulting from Roman fears about a resurgent Carthage and efforts by the Roman, Cato the Elder, to bring about the complete destruction of Carthage. Rome finally declared war and soon after laid siege to Carthage. The Carthaginians refused to surrender, and the Romans, led by Scipio Africanus Minor, were forced to fight in the streets of the city to gain control of it. They then completely destroyed Carthage and organized Carthaginian domains into the Roman province of Africa.
I ruin feize thee, ruthlefe King!
Confufion on the banners wait,
Tho' fann'd by Congueft's crimfan wing
They mock the air with idle fate.
Helm, nor Haubork's twifted mail,
Nor e'en they virtues, Tyrant, fhall crail
To fave thy fecret foul from nightly fear,
From Gambria's curft, from Gambria's tears!
People have since heard the sound of drumming coming from the Castle battlements and some even say they have seen a headless figure walking along them very late at night! Could this be the drummer boy?
Clearly, Turner did not wish to merely record a race but to recreate the romantic pageant of vessels challenging the wind and waves. The atmospheric clarity and complex composition derive from Turner's study of 17th-century Dutch marine painting.
'Eruption of Vesuvius' is a striking painting depicting the erupting volcanic mountain, Vesuvius. His chromatic palette and "broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint" are wonderfully brilliant in their technique and quality of image created.
The acclaimed English art critic John Ruskin has described Turner as an artist who could most "stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature." Known for his paintings of shipwrecks, fires, natural phenomena like storm, rain, fog and sunlight, and natural catastrophes such as 'Eruption of Vesuvius', Turner was fascinated by the power of these elements. The, almost, monochromatic palette of Eruption of Vesuvius dramatically and convincingly conveys the fury of the lava as it erupts from the mouth of the mountain and seeks freedom into the atmosphere lighting up the sky with its power! The reflection of this catastrophe in the waters is brilliantly captured by the artist. Humans fleeing away from the site of destruction indicate the helplessness of humanity in front of nature's might but also indicate Turner's affection for humanity.
However Turner's humans are also vulnerable and vulgar amidst the sublime nature. Sublime here quite literally means awe-inspiring, powerful, savage, untamable and a metaphor for God's power. Turner gave a lot of emphasis to light in his paintings. For him, light signified the emanation of the spirit of God and much of his later work displays light on water (Eruption of Vesuvius), radiance of fires and skies and appear to be impressionistic in nature and theme.
Turner's distinctive style of painting was a product of his use techniques of watercolor with oil paints. The result was a fluid, fluent, light and ephemeral sky, brilliant atmosphere and a disturbing effect on the viewer.
Turner exhibited this painting in 1837, with his own verses re-telling the story. The painting was not well received. One critic called it 'the dream of sick genius... what all that white has to do with the picture, it would puzzle anyone to find out'.
Turner was himself a fine etcher and engraver and throughout his life he employed highly-skilled professional engravers - and grumbled at them regularly when they did not reach his exacting standards! He understood the importance of engraving in reaching the wider public, before the advent of photography made the almost instantaneous transmission of the image a commonplace.
His great interest lay in depicting the scenery both of the British Isles and of European countries such as Switzerland, France and Italy. Not only did he make a major contribution to such publications as Cooke's Picturesque Views of the South Coast of England, but in 1826 set out on an ambitious venture of his own: Picturesque Views in England and Wales, to consist of 120 engravings, for which he would provide the watercolors. These beautiful paintings are now highly regarded (and priced) treasures but the engravings reached that wider audience who would never have had the opportunity to view the originals.
Commissioned as a pendant to 'Venice: The Dogana' and 'San Giorgio Maggiore' and shown at the Royal Academy in 1835, this canvas creates a total counterpoint in mood and meaning. The Venetian scene is far away in the Mediterranean Sea, concerns luxury goods, and glows with warm daylight. This North Sea view-a familiar sight to the British public-reveals sooty, modern industry chilled by the colors of a winter's night.
In 1266 rebels under the leadership of Henry of Hastings used the castle as a refuge during a year long siege of Kenilworth Castle with its water defenses, the double moat fending off siege towers and even an assault by barge. Edward II was imprisoned here after his defeat by his wife Queen Isabella and Roger de Mortimer in 1326. In 1394, John of Gaunt added the marvelous great hall and private apartments of the inner court, turning the military fortress into a royal palace, enjoyed by Henry V, who built a summerhouse and water-garden called 'The Pleasaunce'. The castle was granted to Robert Dudley by the Virgin Queen as a gift and he built the Leicester Gatehouse and Elizabethan gardens. The gate house had been closed since the last occupants departed in the 1930's but have been painstakingly restored to that time with a collection of exhibitions. On the top floor can be discovered the tale of love and transgression of Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley in all its Tudor soap opera glory in "Queen and Castle: Robert Dudley's Kenilworth" with rare portraits of Elizabeth and Dudley. Another exhibition showing the castle's long and colorful history can be found in the restored stables built by Dudley. Two of the rooms on the ground floor will also be available for weddings and private events.
King David I wanted the new abbey to be built on the same site, but the Cistercians insisted that the land was not good enough for farming and instead selected the current site. It is supposed to have been built in ten years. The church of the convent was dedicated to St. Mary (like all Cistercian houses) on July 28, 1146. The Abbey became the mother church of the order in Scotland.
A town slowly grew up around the Abbey. In 1322 the town was attacked by the army of Edward II, and much of the Abbey destroyed. It was rebuilt with the help of King Robert the Bruce, whose embalmed heart, encased in lead, was buried in the church.
In 1544, as English armies raged across Scotland in an effort to force the Scots to allow the infant Mary, Queen of Scots to marry the son of Henry VIII, the Abbey was again badly damaged and was never fully repaired. This led to its decline as a working monastery. The last abbot was James Stuart (illegitimate son of James V), who died in 1559. In 1590, Melrose's last monk died.
The Abbey withstood one final assault-some of its walls still show the marks of cannon-fire after having been bombarded by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War.
In 1610, a portion of the Abbey's church was converted into a parish church for the surrounding town. This involved the insertion of a plain vault into the crossing, which obscured the original ribbed vaulting. It was used until 1810 when a new church was erected in the town.
In 1996 an archaeological excavation on the site unearthed a conical lead container and an engraved copper plaque that read "The enclosed leaden casket containing a heart was found beneath Chapter House floor, March 1921, by His Majesty's Office of Works"; the lead container was not opened, but it is assumed that since there are no records of anyone else's heart being buried at Melrose that it was indeed the heart of Robert I. The container was reburied at Melrose Abbey on June 22, 1998. A plinth was unveiled on June 24 that covers the burial site of the container.
Turner painted two complementary views of the estate of William Moffatt (ca. 1754-1831) at Mortlake, west of London. One, exhibited in 1826, looks downriver toward Moffatt's Neoclassical residence; the painting shown here, exhibited in 1827, is based on a vantage point from within the house, looking in the opposite direction toward Kew. Both works share a yellow tonality, which prompted a contemporary critic to suggest that Turner was "desperately afflicted" with "what we may call a yellow fever." The black dog, silhouetted on the terrace, was painted on a sheet of paper that had been affixed to the canvas-an intervention variously ascribed to Turner and to the artist Edwin Landseer, who was said to have acted during Turner's absence on Varnishing Day.
Located in the centre of the town of Pembroke, it is one of the most impressive Norman castles in Wales, first established in 1093, when the Norman Conquest of Wales was not complete.
In 1138, it became the property of Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke. William Marshall received the castle through marriage and became Earl of Pembroke. He was responsible for commissioning the circular stone keep. Later the castle was given to Jasper Tudor along with the earldom, and he brought his widowed sister-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, to the castle to give birth to her only child, the future King Henry VII of England (1457).
Most of the damage to the castle was done during the English Civil War, when its owners changed sides. After the war Oliver Cromwell, who was personally present at a siege here, encouraged local townspeople to disassemble the structure, stone by stone for their own re-use. Today the castle is open to the public. It is the largest privately owned castle in Wales.
Even after its last military action against the Scots in 1640, Prudhoe's importance as the center of a great landed estate continued. Early in the 19th century the Percies restored it, building a fine new manor house within its walls. All these developments are now vividly interpreted in a family-friendly exhibition including site finds, helping visitors to explore and understand the extensive remains of this formidable and long-lived fortress.
The artist uses the flight of a flock of seagulls spiraling upwards into the sky as the central element in the composition's controlled balance.
Taking naturalistic observation as his starting point and maintaining the local references, Turner produced an emotive exercise in light and color, showing the way towards a new artistic language that the Impressionists would later understand and assimilate.
The painting reveals the trend towards the progressive elimination of forms, which become mere thematic pretexts. By doing this, Turner transcends the composition's physical space, opting instead to transform it into a setting where impressions are heightened.
"Monte" or Mount may be a touch exaggerated for what is actually more of a 35 meter tall hill that, in over two thousand years of history, from imperial Rome to the present day, has had a variety of uses.
Its name derives from "testa", earthenware in Latin, because in ancient Rome it was used as a dumping ground for amphora scraps (earthenware pots) from the emporiums and the "horrea" or shopping centers of the time. In the middle ages it became the theater of Christian processions and rites, a cross has survived at the top of Monte Testaccio as testimony of this time. Monte Testaccio, together with the nearby fields that went all the way to the Aventino, was also the grounds for important public games in which many nobles participated and which were often presided by the Pope himself.
Pope Paul II put an end to the public games on Monte Testaccio and transferred them to his palace - the present day Palazzo Venezia - but Monte Testaccio retained its popularity among the middle and lower classes thanks to its many caves, used for the storage of wine.
On his return home, Turner painted this sweeping view from the Vatican Loggia, across Saint Peter's Square towards the Abruzzi hills. It embraces all that Rome meant to him as the historic centre, first of the Roman Empire, then of its successor, the Christian Church, and then of the great artists of the Renaissance - crowned by Raphael, who stands in the foreground.
Lord Byron also loved the mountains. The famous English poet settled in the Villa Diodati, near Geneva, in 1816. He wrote these lines during a boat trip on the lake: "How much more, Lake of Beauty! Do we feel, in sweetly gliding o'er thy crystal sea." Byron hired the services of a boatman and spent the majority of his time on the lake. The poet stayed five months in Geneva, where he continued his passionate love affair with Claire Clairmont and his friendship with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was in Switzerland with his wife. Then Byron stayed at the Hotel de l'Ancre in Ouchy. The splendid view over the lake inspired his poem 'The Prisoner of Chillon', based on the flood of emotions he experienced after his shipwreck near the sumptuous Chillon castle. His stay in Clarens with Shelley inspired him to complete Childe Harold III. Byron also toured the surrounding area and travelled to Martigny, in the Valais, where he sojourned in two lovely inns. He then continued on his way and met up with a fellow Englishman in Sion, who accompanied him to Italy. A lakefront hotel in Villeneuve still bears his name today.
In this work Turner echoed the style of the French 17th century artist Claude Lorraine by framing the view with trees and leading the eye through to a distant horizon. Turner challenged the idea that the landscape of Britain was not a worthy subject for high art.
Lake Thun is one of the loveliest and largest lakes in Switzerland and very much appreciated by tourists and locals alike. Located within green mountains and snowy summits (namely the Jungfrau) Lake Thun presents many opportunities for water-sports and swimming. A well documented network of walking path along the Lake and above the villages in the foothills invite for activities such as hiking and mountain biking.
We do not know when Turner first visited Petworth, Lord Egremont's house in Sussex. In 1809 he was commissioned to paint views of the house and park, but it was not until 20 years later that he was received as a member of the family and given his own painting room with a specially constructed window. The enchantment of the place and the genial exhilaration of Lord Egremont's friendship combined to give an almost miraculous quality to the many paintings and watercolors he made there.
The watercolor shows a broad vista, very much in the manner of Claude, with the landscape receding into a soft blue distance. Martello towers line the coastline, while in the middle distance Ashburnham Place, with its park designed by 'Capability' Brown, provides a focus for the activity taking place on the estate.
Source: Art Renewal Center
Source: Web Gallery of Art
Return to Pagina Artis
Return to Bruce and Bobbie's Main Page.