JMW Turner liked to go fishing on the Thames and is reputed to have lashed himself to the mast of a ship in order to paint a storm at sea. More than half his artistic output was of maritime subjects but this is the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the artist's lifelong lifelong fascination with the sea. Featuring work borrowed from galleries around the world and including some of Turner’s most famous works, it encompasses oils, watercolours, prints and sketches.
The show charts a remarkable career that encompassed both the artist's transformative Royal Academy paintings of the late 1790s and early 1800s and the unfinished, experimental seascapes he produced towards the end of his life. Among the highlights are ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ (1839), ‘Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth’ (1842), Staffa and Turner's only royal commission, ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ (1824).
Works by Turner’s contemporaries and peers, such as Willem van de Velde, Thomas Gainsborough, Nicholas Pocock, John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonington, provide a wider context in a show certain to go down a storm.
Read our interview with the curator and see highlights from the show here
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I was not amused by the quantity of fecal matter based paintings. There was also a severe smell of cat urine from the air ducts. I went to the toilet 6 times and each time the hand dryer had not been fixed as there was a cat legs hanging out of the air intake fan.
I loved this- some fabulous Turner paintings but most exquisitely some watercolour sketches which show his amazing draughtmanship. Made me turn back to my own sketchbook- which is what only the best exhibitions do.
Brilliant; well put together and a really interesting narrative. Loved the comparison with contemporary artists and how they motivated the evolution of Turner's work. The last part of the show was particularly exceptional. Well worth a visit, as is the astrophotography show at the nearby Royal Observatory.