Synopses & Reviews
J.M.W. Turner is probably the greatest painter Britain has ever produced. Disturbingly original and astonishingly prolific, he rose from the obscurity of a barber's son to bequeath a rich and complex legacy. Paintings such as Rain, Steam and Speed have become British icons, and the phrase "Turner sky" is known to students of art around the world.
Despite this fame, or perhaps because of it, Turner's work has often been misunderstood, his intentions simplified. Here, Sam Smiles investigates Turner's artistic and literary influences, his political views, and the extraordinary evolution of his approach and techniques. Examining how Turner produced effects that lay beyond the competence of other artists--dissolving form, rendering diaphanous expanses of light, and using color with the utmost subtlety and control--the author contradicts Turner's own claim that his only secret was "damned hard work."
In the process, Smiles retrieves the meaning of Turner's art from critical misconstruings. He finds in Turner not a recorder of light and landscape but a fascinating artist who foreshadowed modernism and used landscape to deliver profound ruminations on society, politics, technology, and the human condition. Turner's sophisticated artistic personality emerges, rendering his art more compelling than ever.
Table of Contents
1. Turner's Legacy 7
2. The Making of an Artist 16
3. Painting and Meaning 27
4. Picturing Britain 39
5. The Fascination of Europe 47
6. The Contemporary Scene 55
7. The Late Work 66