Sunday, April 13, 2014

Turner the "excellent sailor"

After the wonderful Turner and the Sea exhibition (only a week to go before it closes!) I wanted to know about this remarkable artist and so browsed the shop for a bio to read.

The one I picked up was the Peter Ackroyd "Turner" on the grounds that he can be a rather entertaining writer and, more importantly, it wasn't too long. I don't feel I have to know everything about Turner: just an overview, and fun one at that.

I've passed the half way point and its already been worthwhile. For example I've learnt that Turner was an "excellent sailor".

Once they went out to sea and the swell became rather "boisterous", causing some passengers to feel rather unwell.

However according to one observer Turner "sat in the stern sheets intently watching the sea, and not at all affected by the motion... when we were on a crest of a wave, he now and then articulated to myself - for we were sitting side by side - 'that's fine! - fine!"

So when you see a picture such as the early "Fishermen at sea" (above, from 1796) you can believe that he had been out there and seen it for himself, maybe with those actual fishermen.


O Docker said...

And to think there was a time, before Instagram, when artists had to conjure up their own lighting filters. How did they do it?

JP said...

Thanks to Ackryod I can answer that one. Apparently Turner was keen on "slathering on his favourite chrome yellow" as a last minute adjustment to some of his works. He would also spit on the canvas and rub in some snuff with his fingers.

He put so much yellow on that his painting of Jessica from The Merchant of Venice it got the nickname "lady getting out of a large mustard-pot".

The poet Wordsworth said of the same picture "it looks to me as if the painter had indulged in raw liver until he was very unwell."

Is there an Instagram filter for rubbed in snuff?