JMW Turner and John Constable are two of the most famous British artists of the past 500 years. This article examines the very best William Turner paintings and discusses why these two Romanticist artists had such a large impact on art movements from the 19th century onwards. Romanticist paintings helped to develop art movements on from the traditional styles of baroque and renaissance art onwards towards the more emotional and creative impressionist paintings that appeared after the success of Turner and Constable.
Whilst impressionism itself was a French-born and predominantly French-led phenomenon the preceding Romanticist artists frequently had British roots. Turner and Constable came about at a time when religious depictions and accurate, unimaginative portraits were traditional fodder in the art world. It was artists like these that helped to encourage and promote the study and enjoyment of landscape art. Their qualities as artists also enabled landscape painting to achieve critical success which before then had been rare. They were also keen to cover great landscapes without inclusion of people in their paintings at all, on the most part, which also went against the grain.
The achievements of Turner have led to the Turner wing being set up in a key London gallery, which is a rare and highly prestigious award. Turner himself is an unusual artist in that he is respected for both his oil and watercolour paintings. Because of the lack of interest in watercolours as a medium internationally, he is now best known as an oil painting artist.
Many art fans still love to buy reproductions of original Turner paintings, and the romantic use of colours and brush strokes is still very popular today. His use of light and it's effect on the surroundings of the painting is perhaps the signature characteristic of the better William Turner paintings.
Whilst receiving his training from the Royal Academy of Art, which tended to teach stale academic techniques at the time, Turner was to go on to push the boundaries of his present day art scene and revel in the creativity and innovation that he clearly had.
As well as being highly respected across his native UK, Turner also is appreciated in the United States, where the Turner Museum can be found. Perhaps the most well known legacy of his career is the Turner Prize which was created in 1984 and attracts great entrants from the British modern art world. It remains one of the world's highest profile art competitions, as has some highly successful names as previous winners.
To pick just a few key works from Turner's long career is perhaps a little tricky, but a list of his most famous paintings would probably include the likes of Warkworth Castle, Northumberland - Thunder Storm Approaching at Sun-Set, The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps, Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On), Eruption of Vesuvius, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons and The Grand Canal, Venice.
To conclude this article, it is fair to say that Turner and Constable helped shape modern art by bringing in new ideas and techniques which helped to allow others a similar level of creative freedom and acceptance. JMW Turner himself also matched abilities with oil on canvas with those of his watercolours which continue to be an important part of any Turner exhibition which appear frequently around the UK and USA.