Turner was born in 1775
. He died in 1851
. In between he painted some of the most gorgeous
images of landscapes, cities, and the natural environment ever to be committed to canvas
. He was exhibited in the Royal Academy
whilst he was still only 15; he remained popular throughout his life, was financially secure, travelled throughout Europe, and died at a ripe old age. He is thus the polar opposite of such romantic figures as William Blake
and Lord Byron, although the works he produced were just as transcendent.
Turner's most famous paintings were rendered with oil, although he also produced watercolour studies. He had two distinct styles. As a trained draftsman he was capable of photographic realism, particularly in his watercolours, and his pictures of Venice, buildings, and ships. Later on in life he developed a more impressionistic style, creating paintings which gave the impression of form from little more than swirls of colour. This latter style is most famously exhibited in such paintings as 'Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, which resembles a miasmic vortex of green and black, and 'Landscape with a River and a Bay in the Background' (he had a thing for literal titles), which initially appears to be a few brown splodges beneath a large bluey-white area.
He's often mentioned in the same sentence as John Constable, his junior by one year - both were English artists who produced landscapes, although Constable's work was more rugged and less wishy-washy than Turner's.
His last words were supposedly 'The sun is God'.