Turner’s Amazing Maritime Art (Turner 1775-1851) SNR Podcast

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    Malcolm Lewis

    Grateful to Sam Willis for now including the four pictures discussed on the Podcast. It is now more meaningful. Turner’s Fighting Temeraire has in recent times been voted the nation’s most loved painting. When seen in the National Gallery it does bowl one over. I particularly remember the big daub of white paint, obviously done with Turner’s thumb, to represent the moon – wonderful!
    It has to be remembered that Turner was firstly a painter and not a naval historian and the latter can find many technical errors in his maritime works but of course they are extremely evocative and impressionistic. It is these aspects which have always captured the public’s imagination.
    One thing which surprises me is how widely Turner traveled not only in the UK but also in Europe presumably in some form of horse drawn vehicle together with all his painting paraphernalia. His watercolours of steam tugs on the River Seine show his interest in the new steam age which is to the fore in the Fighting Temeraire painting.
    Whilst Turner tackled many subjects, I always think his architectural pictures are the best especially his magical watercolours of Venice such as The Bridge of Sighs. As Professor of Perspective, he lectured at the Royal Academy and Oxford University. A collection of his Oxford watercolours can be viewed in the Print Room at the Ashmolean Museum (with white gloves supplied). I loved handling the “Master’s” actual works although there are likely to be restrictions at the present time.

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