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The most famous of all British painters, J. M. W. Turner was a visionary and a maverick, whose landscape paintings both astounded and antagonised those that saw them. From humble beginnings Turner rose to become the dominant force in British landscape painting and a towering figure of Romanticism. A member of the Royal Academy in London, Turner was nevertheless fiercely attacked by critics for his radical approach to painting, one remarking that he painted with ‘soaps suds and white wash’. Turner’s paintings reflect his varying responses to the world around him, a world that was rapidly changing as the industrial revolution propelled society forward. As well as depicting steamships and steam railways, Turner’s paintings recall the ancient world, echoing neo-classical landscapes of the French painter Claude Lorrain. But Turner’s true muse was nature itself. Nowhere is the power and majesty of nature so emphatically depicted as in the landscapes of Turner. Rain, snow and sea engulf great ships and conquering armies, as humanity is utterly dwarfed by the awesome forces of nature. Turner painted nature as he understood it and not as saw it, and in this way he is often seen as anticipating Impressionism. His handling of paint at times teetered on the brink of abstraction. Turner was a radical force in his time and for that he is remembered as great artist.
Presented by Tim Marlow
1 x 23′
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