Turner and the Elements


While at first glance linking Turner to earth, air, fire and water seems simplistic, at least the four elements allow the artist to be judged on his own terms and compared to no one but himself. The section on ‘Earth’, naturally, features mountainous passes and rocky outcrops in heavy vistas over Cumbria, Wales, Scotland and the French Alps. ‘Air’ and ‘Water’ focus on weather phenomena from rolling thunderstorms and waves claiming shipwrecks to emergent rainbows and sunsets over Margate. Turner’s depictions of ‘Fire’ are legendary, not least in his first-hand accounts of the burning of Parliament in 1834, but a final section called ‘Fusion’ falls apart just as Turner begins to bring all these strands together. (OW)