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Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) was an English painter who revolutionized the traditional British landscape painting. He left behind a vast collection of artworks that include dramatic landscape paintings, watercolors, and sketchbooks. Turner’s work is characterized by bold colors, loose brushwork, and innovative techniques that influenced the Impressionist movement.

10 Must-See J.M.W. Turner Watercolors - number 1 The Fighting Temeraire

J.M.W. Turner’s Beginnings

The English painter extensively used sketchbooks, dozens of which are still available for historians to study. Turner used them to record observations and first impressions, make preparatory studies, practice copying works by the Old Masters, and experiment with colors and materials. Thousands of pages of Turner’s sketchbooks remain preserved for historians and museum visitors, providing fascinating insight into the inner workings of J. M. W. Turner’s artistic mind as he developed his signature style.

Turner’s Watercolor Techniques

Turner was a master of watercolor painting, producing more than 30,000 watercolors during his lifetime[1]. He used a variety of techniques to create his stunning watercolor paintings, including wet-on-wet, dry brush, and glazing. His watercolors are characterized by their luminosity, transparency, and fluidity, which capture the beauty and power of nature.

10 Must-See J.M.W. Turner Watercolors

  1. “The Fighting Temeraire” (1839) – This painting depicts the decommissioned HMS Temeraire being towed up the Thames to be broken up for scrap. It is one of Turner’s most famous works and is considered a masterpiece of British art.
  2. “Rain, Steam, and Speed” (1844) – This painting depicts a steam train crossing a bridge during a rainstorm. It is a stunning example of Turner’s use of color and light to capture the drama of nature.
  3. “Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps” (1812) – This painting depicts Hannibal’s army crossing the Alps during a snowstorm. It is a powerful and dramatic work that showcases Turner’s skill at capturing the sublime.
  4. “The Slave Ship” (1840) – This painting depicts a ship throwing slaves overboard during a storm. It is a haunting and powerful work that highlights Turner’s social conscience.
  5. “The Burning of the Houses of Parliament” (1835) – This painting depicts the Houses of Parliament on fire. It is a dramatic and atmospheric work that showcases Turner’s use of light and color to capture the mood of the scene.
  6. “Norham Castle, Sunrise” (1845) – This painting depicts Norham Castle at sunrise. It is a beautiful and serene work that showcases Turner’s use of light and color to capture the beauty of nature.
  7. “The Blue Rigi, Sunrise” (1842) – This painting depicts the Swiss mountain, the Rigi, at sunrise. It is a stunning example of Turner’s use of light and color to capture the beauty of the natural world.
  8. “Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight” (1835) – This painting depicts keelmen unloading coal from a ship by moonlight. It is a moody and atmospheric work that showcases Turner’s use of light and shadow.
  9. “Venice, from the Porch of Madonna della Salute” (1835) – This painting depicts the city of Venice from the porch of the Madonna della Salute. It is a beautiful and serene work that showcases Turner’s use of light and color to capture the beauty of the city.
  10. “Fishermen at Sea” (1796) – This painting depicts fishermen battling a storm at sea. It is a powerful and dramatic work that showcases Turner’s skill at capturing the sublime.
969px Joseph Mallord William Turner Fishermen at Sea Google Art Project
963px Turner J. M. W. The Grand Canal Venice
800px William Turner Keelmen heaving in coals by night
1063px Blue Rigi painting
976px Joseph Mallord William Turner Norham Castle Sunrise WGA23182
967px Joseph Mallord William Turner English The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons October 16 1834 Google Art Project
959px Slave ship
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964px Turner Rain Steam and Speed National Gallery file
969px The Fighting Temeraire JMW Turner National Gallery

Top 10 Turner Watercolors in our Gallery
via Wikipedia Commons

J.M.W. Turner’s watercolor paintings are held in several notable museums and galleries around the world. Some of these include:

  • Tate Britain in London, which houses the vast hoard of Turner’s lifetime’s work that he left in his house and studio.
  • The National Gallery in Ireland, which holds an annual exhibition of Turner’s watercolors in January..
  • Museums in New York and other East Coast cities, where an assortment of Turner’s works are on display.
  • The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which held a major international loan exhibition of over sixty key oil paintings and watercolors by Turner.
  • The Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, which held a rare show of watercolors Turner made throughout his career.

Things that make Turner’s watercolors unique

Turner was a prolific watercolorist, and he produced over 20,000 watercolors in his lifetime. His watercolors are known for their atmospheric effects, their use of light and color, and their bold and experimental style.

  • Atmospheric effects: Turner was a master of capturing the effects of light and atmosphere in his watercolors. He often used washes of color to create a sense of atmosphere and mood.
  • Use of light and color: Turner was a bold and experimental artist who used light and color in new and innovative ways. He often used vibrant colors and strong contrasts to create dramatic effects.
  • Bold and experimental style: Turner’s watercolors were often bold and experimental. He was not afraid to break the rules and explore new techniques.

Turner’s watercolors are a testament to his genius as an artist. They are beautiful, atmospheric, and experimental. They continue to inspire and amaze artists and art lovers alike.

What watercolor techniques did Turner use?

Joseph Mallord William Turner was a master of watercolor painting and his signature style was characterized by the following techniques:

  • Wet-on-wet: Turner used this technique to create soft, blended edges and to allow colors to mix and flow together on the paper.
  • Dry brush: Turner used this technique to create texture and detail by dragging a dry brush over wet paint to create highlights and shadows.
  • Glazing: Turner used this technique to build up layers of transparent color to create depth and luminosity in his paintings.
  • Bold colors: Turner’s use of bold, vibrant colors was a departure from the more muted tones of traditional British landscape painting.
  • Loose brushwork: Turner’s brushwork was loose and expressive, giving his paintings a sense of energy and movement.
  • Innovative techniques: Turner was constantly experimenting with new techniques and materials, such as using salt to create texture in his watercolors.

Turner’s use of these techniques allowed him to capture the beauty and drama of nature in a way that was both realistic and expressive. His watercolors are characterized by their luminosity, transparency, and fluidity, which capture the beauty and power of the natural world.

Turner’s Legacy

Turner’s innovative techniques and stunning works of art have had a lasting impact on the art world. His use of color, light, and atmosphere influenced the Impressionist movement, and his watercolor techniques continue to inspire artists today. Turner’s legacy is a testament to his skill and creativity, and his works remain some of the most beloved and celebrated in British art history.

2 thoughts on “10 Must-See J.M.W. Turner Watercolors”

  1. J.M.W. Turner did combine watercolors and oils in his paintings, often using watercolor as a base or underpainting for his oil works.
    Turner was a master of both watercolor and oil painting techniques. He would frequently start a composition in watercolor, capturing the initial atmospheric effects and color studies, and then build upon it with layers of oil paint.
    This combined approach allowed Turner to take advantage of the luminous transparency of watercolors while also achieving the rich textures and depth possible with oils. His innovative techniques blurred the boundaries between the two mediums.
    Some examples that demonstrate Turner’s integration of watercolor and oil include:
    The Blue Rigi (1842) – An Alpine landscape where the sky and mountains were first rendered in radiant watercolor washes before being overlaid with oil glazes.
    Norham Castle, Sunrise (c.1845) – The atmospheric effects of the sunrise were first captured in watercolor before Turner applied oil paint to depict the castle’s architectural details.
    Rockets and Blue Lights (1840s) – Turner used a watercolor underpainting to establish the fiery colors and light effects, then built up the scene with thick impasto oil paint.
    Turner’s innovative techniques, combining transparent watercolor washes with opaque oil pigments on the same surface, allowed him to achieve unparalleled luminosity and atmospheric effects in his paintings.

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