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On the Anniversary of Turner's Death: A Giveaway

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The Dustshoveller's Gazette: On the Anniversary of Turner's Death: A Giveaway

Monday, 19 December 2011

On the Anniversary of Turner's Death: A Giveaway

It's a week of anniversaries and art.  JMW Turner (1775-1851) died 160 years ago today.  "I never miss an accident" he once said, and true to his word, he was out on the night of the fire at Westminster in 1834. Armed with his two notebooks he spent hours absorbing the colour and drama of the scene, both on land and water.  I haven't been able to get all of his watercolour pictures of the fire into my book (one of them, and the two famous oils will be), but here are some wonderful reproductions of the rest from Tate Britain which houses the Turner bequest.  They are not on permanent public view at the gallery because that would damage them, but they can be studied in person on request.  In 2005 they were displayed alongside works by Monet and Whistler, and it is obvious the debt which those two other artists owe to England's greatest painter.

For more information on Turner's paintings of the 1834 disaster, I recommend the very interesting catalogue by Katherine Solender, Dreadful Fire! (Cleveland OH, 1984) produced for the 150th anniversary of the fire by the American gallery which holds one of the oils.   It's now out of print, but during my research, I managed by mistake to acquire two copies of this small but fascinating paperback from separate secondhand bookshops.  I have one in good condition to give away - if you'd like to win it, please follow this blog (if you're not already) and add a comment or two about Turner or these paintings, or both, by 31 December.  I'll choose a winner at random from contributions.



At 19 December 2011 at 13:07 , Anonymous denise meredith said...

"The sun is God" Turner's reputed to say just a few weeks before he died. I hope he did because for me, his paintings pulse with such raw energy, such passion, such extraordinary intensity of colour that it takes my breath away and never more so than in the depiction of fire and disaster.

At 30 December 2011 at 21:19 , Anonymous Mike Rendell said...

My favourite quote, allegedly by Turner, was "If I could find anything blacker than black, I'd use it." It is the contrast between his light (sunsets, rainbows, whatever) and the dark, which focus the eye on the central theme.

At 31 December 2011 at 10:54 , Blogger Mike Paterson said...

Mmmm. Where to start with this? Was there a greater English painter before or since Turner? No. He is our Shakespeare of Art. A master in all media: pen and ink, watercolour, oils. All exquisite and seemingly effortless. He had the eye, he had the hand. Being a West Londoner, I like to think of Turner as something of a local lad. As a boy, he lived for a time with his uncle at what is now The Weir pub in Brentford (formerly White Horse). As a man he built a country house near Twickenham for him and his dad (Sandycombe Lodge, excitingly now under refurbishment by Turner House Trust). He and his guests would venture out on painting expeditions on the Thames and surrounding area. I know it's a cliché, but I adore The Fighting Temeraire, even if he took the artistic liberty of putting the masts back on!

At 2 January 2012 at 19:05 , Blogger Caroline Shenton said...

Thank you for these three fab comments...I wish I had three catalogues to give away! Sadly, I don't, so Denise wins by a whisker reminding me of Roy Strong's description of the fire paintings in oil as a 'golden Tapocalyptic glory'. Sorry to those who may have had trouble posting or following; Blogger is behaving badly, and I plan to move to Wordpress as soon as practical.

At 2 January 2012 at 19:06 , Blogger Caroline Shenton said...

Or, Apocalyptic even!


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