Abstract Impressionism

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Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner was a British Romantic landscape painter, water-colourist. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light" and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to abstract impressionism prior to its recognition in the early twentieth century.

Turner was born on 23rd April 1775 in London. His father, William Turner was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of butchers.

In 1785, as a result of a illness in the family the young Turner was sent to stay with his maternal uncle, Joseph Mallord William Marshall, in Brentford, a small town on the banks of the River Thames. From this period, the earliest known artistic exercise by Turner are found. Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate on the north-east Kent coast where he continues painting. These drawings were then exhibited in his father's shop window and sold for a few shillings. In 1789 Turner again stayed with his uncle, who had retired to Sunningwell in Berkshire. Where Turner creates whole sketchbook which then becomes a base for later finished paintings.

By the end of 1789 Turner begun to study under the topographical draughtsman Thomas Malton, whom Turner would later call "My real master". He entered the Royal Academy of Art schools in 1789, when he was only 14 years old. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to continue painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick. His first watercolour painting A View of the

Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth was accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition of 1790 when Turner was 15. In June 1792 he was admitted to the life class to learn to draw the human body from nude models. In the summer he travelled widely throughout Britain and particularly to Wales producing a wide range of sketches. Turner exhibited his first oil painting at the academy in 1796, Fishermen at Sea: a nocturnal moonlit scene of The Needles, which lie off the Isle of Wight.

In his later years he used oils ever more transparently, and turned to an evocation of almost pure light by use of shimmering colour. A prime example of his mature style can be seen in Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway, where the objects are barely recognisable. The intensity of hue and interest in evanescent light not only placed Turner's work in the vanguard of English painting, but exerted an influence on art in France; the Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet, carefully studied his techniques.

High levels of ash in the atmosphere during 1816, the "Year Without a Summer", led to unusually spectacular sunsets during this period, and were an inspiration for some of Turner's work.

On a trip to Europe, circa 1820, he met Robert James Graves. Graves tells that Turner would outline a scene, sit doing nothing for two or three days, then suddenly, "perhaps on the third day, he would exclaim 'there it is', and seizing his colours work rapidly till he had noted down the peculiar effect he wished to fix in his memory."

Suitable vehicles for Turner's imagination were found in 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 watercolour 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 was a frequent guest of George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont, at Petworth House in West Sussex and painted scenes that Egremont funded taken from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside He never married but had a relationship with an older widow, Sarah Danby. He is believed to have been the father of her two daughters born in 1801 and 1811.

Royal Academy of Arts occasionally awards students the Turner Medal. A prestigious annual art award, the Turner Prize was created in 1984 In 2004 the Winsor & Newton Turner Watercolour Award was founded.

In April 2006, Christie's auctioned Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio for US $35.8 million, setting a new record for a Turners work. The New York Times stated that according to two sources who had requested anonymity the buyer was casino magnate Stephen Wynn.

Turner's life and career is portrayed in Mr. Turner, a 2014 British biographical drama film, written and directed by Mike Leigh, and starring Timothy Spall.

Turner died in the house of his mistress Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea on 19 December 1851. At his request he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds.