JMW Turner: You Rock Star!

I am off to the UK tomorrow for two months and so the number of posts you will receive will be considerably less until I return in September. I will do my best to keep you informed of any exhibitions I attend.
When I think of the UK and artists, like most people Joseph Mallord William Turner RA (1775 – 1851), known in his time as William Turner, comes to mind very quickly. Turner was an English Romantic painter, printmaker and watercolourist. He is known for his expressive colouring, imaginative landscapes and turbulent, often violent marine paintings. He left behind more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 works on paper. He was championed by the leading English art critic John Ruskin from 1840, and is today regarded as having elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting
Portrait of J. M. W. Turner, making his sketch for the celebrated picture of 'Mercury & Argus' (exhibited in 1836) by Charles Turner (Credit: Public Domain/

The image above of JMW Turner was created by the English engraver Charles Turner (1774-1857). Charles Turner ARA was an English mezzotint engraver and draughtsman who specialized in portraiture. He collaborated with J. M. W. Turner (to whom he was not related) on the early plates of the same's Liber Studiorum.1

When I think of Turner's paintings what comes immediately to my mind are his majestic skies which often dominate the seascape or landscape below. Turner was the master painter of skies as expressed by Marie Laurent who said:

He greatly influenced both the classicist and romantic movements, while contributing with his own signature elements. One of those was his skies; his technique and use of painting methods as well as the significance he gave the skies in his art pieces marked the world of art and are still relevant today. How did he influence his contemporaries and his time ? The answer lies in between the clouds of his paintings.2

Fishermen at Sea by JMW Turner (Credit: Public Domain/

In collaboration with ChatGPT I came up with this fun description of one of the world's most remarkable artists:

J.M.W. Turner, the artistic maestro of light and landscapes, was like the rockstar of the 19th-century art scene. Born in England in 1775, he was the original hipster before it was cool, with his flowing locks and penchant for painting nature's greatest hits. Turner didn't just paint landscapes; he rocked them, turning each canvas into a stage for his epic light shows. His brushstrokes were like guitar riffs, electrifying the art world with their raw energy and soulful expression.3

Rockets and Blue Lights (Close at Hand) to Warn Steamboats of Shoal Water, 1840, by JMW Turner Clark Art InstituteWilliamstown, Massachusetts (Credit: Public Domain/

As Turner roamed the countryside, he was like a painterly Indiana Jones, seeking out the Holy Grail of picturesque views. Armed with his trusty sketchbook and a nose for adventure, he braved wind, rain, and the occasional rogue sheep to capture the essence of each locale. And boy, did he capture it! His paintings were like Instagram filters before Instagram even existed, turning mundane scenes into instant masterpieces. You could almost hear his paintings whispering, "No filter needed, baby!"3

Morning amongst the Coniston Fells, 1798, Tate Britain by JMW Turner (Credit: Public Domain/

Turner's artistic antics weren't just confined to his canvas; he was a rebel with a palette knife, mixing colors like a mad scientist and unleashing them on unsuspecting art critics. His bold use of color was like a slap in the face to convention, daring viewers to question their perception of reality. And if that wasn't enough, he even had a habit of signing his name with a flourish that would make any rockstar jealous. Oh, Turner, you magnificent show-off, you! 3

Signature of JMW Turner (Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/

Many years ago the AnArt4Life blog did produce a post on J.M.W. Turner which you can check out by following the link below.

Oxford, JMW Turner and Creativity
Joseph Mallord William Turner’s (1775-1851) relationship with Oxford spanned most of his life from the time he was 12 when he was first exposed to the beauty of this city and commenced sketching the streets, colleges and picturesque views around the city.

But...I can't leave this post without showcasing one of my favourite Turner paintings which demonstrates his brilliance with brush and paint...

Calais Pier, 1801, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London by JMW Turner (Credit: Public Domain/

In a couple of days I am going to show you the works of the other William Turner who was also from Oxford!

2. Joseph M. W. Turner’s skies – Marie Laurent, PAR MASTERSFDL PUBLIÉ 19/05/2018 MIS À JOUR 23/05/2018
3. ChatGPT using instructions from Anne Newman