Synopses & Reviews
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Britains greatest and most mysterious artist, was the son of a Convent Garden barber and a woman who died in Bethlehem mental hospital. During his lifetime (1775-1851), Turner achieved fame and fortune for a range of work encompassing seascape and landscape, immensely powerful oil paintings and intimate watercolors. His friend and colleague C. R. Leslie remembered him thus: "Turner was short and stout, and had a sturdy, sailor-like walk. He might be taken for the captain of a steamboat at first glance; but a second would find more in his face than belongs in any ordinary mind. There was the peculiar keenness of expression in his eye that is only seen in men of constant habits of observation."
For this new biography, the first comprehensive narrative of Turners life in a generation, Anthony Bailey has searched through the archives, studied the scholarly literature, made use of much research done in the last thirty years, and looked at almost all of Turner's sketchbooks as well as many of his paintings and watercolors. He has uncovered fresh material and put together other facts, previously known, to shed new light on those complicated and secretive man. Anthony Bailey has set out to write a biography of the man, not a book about his paintings, and J.M.W. Turner comes vividly to life in these pages. Reclusive and gregarious, private and vainglorious, tough and vulnerable, a long-term bachelor who fathered two daughters, Turner was full of contradictions, and Anthony Bailey rises masterfully to the challenge of describing them here.*
"A thorough, careful biography of a talented, deeply evasive English painter whose own contemporaries knew little of him....Without ever denying Turner's quirks and petty cruelties, Bailey gradually illuminates the artist's character." Kirkus Reviews
"Bailey displays all the assurance one would expect from a longtime New Yorker staff writer and author of 20 books in this brisk and enlightening biography of the great English painter of sky, sea, and storm....Bailey has brought the feisty genius (who looked like a sea captain) out from behind the extraordinarily dramatic seascapes he is revered for, and sure enough, Turner himself is a force of nature." Booklist
"Written with flair and imagination, drawing on vivid background material..." Sunday Times
Includes bibliographical references (p. -458) and index.
About the Author
Anthony Bailey, a staff writer for The New Yorker for the past thirty-five years, is the author of seventeen books, among them The Outer Banks, Along the Edge of the Forest, In the Village, and America, Lost & Found. He divides his time between the United States and England.