In certain watercolors he suspends completely the definition of a specific subject, leaving almost everything in doubt but the positive existence of color.
Many of the exhibited paintings began the same way; the act of defining a particular scene was left until the varnishing days when the paintings were already hanging, and then performed with great brilliance. By the 1830s, as acquaintance Charles Eastlake explained to
Turner's first biographer Walter Thornbury,' none of Turner's exhibited pictures could be said to be finished till he had worked on them when they were on the
walls of the Royal Academy.'
Another contemporary artist described how Turner sent in a picture to the British Institution exhibition of 1835 in a state no more finished than 'a mere dab of several colours, and "without form and void"';
the account continues that 'Such a magician,
performing his incantations in public, was an object of interest and attraction'.
At the age of 15 Turner received a rare honor when he was selcted to exhibit his first picture Fishermen at Sea in the Royal Academy exhibition in 1796. His mother died when he was very young and while his father worked as a barber, Turner would display his first works for sale in his father's shop window. Unlike most artists he was successful throughout most of his carreer. He became more reclusive and eccentric with few friends in his later years refusing to allow anyone to to watch him as he painted. Tempermantal and secretive he disappeared for several months. Later he was found very ill hiding in a house in Chelsea. He died December 19, 1851, leaving a large fortune that he hoped would be used to support what he called "decaying artists."
Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.
1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)
De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.