Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The world, through the eyes of Turner

One of my first projects this year is to recreate a piece of work by the ‘old masters’. For mine I decided to look at the work of Turner. Before I go on about my version of his work, I am going to take a minute to talk about his life and his work.

Let’s start from the top shall we. Turner was born in the year 1775, into an English family from London, he entered the Royal Academy of Art when hewas just fourteen, and was accepted into the academy just one year later. Turners original interests where in architecture, but he was advised to continue painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick. After only one year of study, a watercolour by turner was accepted into the Summer Exhibition of 1790, and his first oil painting known as ‘Fishermen at Sea’ was exhibited in 1796. He then exhibited at the academy for nearly every year for the rest of this life.

Turner’s style of painting is very unique, in a lot of his works he uses the oil paints almost like watercolours, this helps him to create a visually amazing pieces. John Ruskin (English Art Critic) describes Turner as the artist who could most ‘Stirringly and truthfully measures the moods of nature’.

The things that captured turners interests the most were things such as shipwrecks, fires, natural disasters, and natural phenomena,like sunlight, storms and fog. The significance of light was to turner, the emanation of gods’ spirit, this is why in his later paintings he refined the subject matter of his paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, and concentrating on the play of light on water, and the radiance of fire and the sky.

Turner’s earlier works were true to the style of English Landscape paintings such as Tintern Abby 1795 (top). However in Hannibal Crossing the Alps 1812 (bottom), his emphasis on the destructive power of nature was starting to come through.

In his later years Turner used oil paints more transparently, and focused almost all his work on the power of nature and Light. A rumour says that he had himself tied to the mast of a ship to experience the power of nature during a storm at sea. How much truth there is behind this, I have no idea, but if it is true then, I take it that’s one way to get the feel of nature.

I have taken a real liking to the style of Turners’ work, the looseness of it, and the way he shows both spectacular lighting, and the powerful force of nature. So for my piece of work I decided to do ‘Burning of Parliament’ which shows both of these aspects.

Burning of Parliament by J.M.W. Turner (1834)

Reproduction of ‘Burning of Parliament’ by S.B. Gwilliams (2009)

I could of sworn my looked better that that, yet again that's what you get for putting it right next to masters work for all to see.