Colección: William Turner

J.M.W. Turner RA (1775 - 1851) - aka William Turner was a child prodigy who went on to become one of the stars of British art, Joseph Mallord William Turner began his formal training at the Royal Academy Schools aged just 14.

Turner’s father was a Covent Garden barber who encouraged his son’s artistic ability, exhibiting and selling Turner’s early drawings in his shop. However, his mother was frequently unwell and was eventually admitted to Bethlem Hospital; as a result, Turner spent much of his childhood with relatives in Middlesex.

Turner began exhibiting watercolours at the Royal Academy’s Annual (Summer) Exhibition in 1790, soon after joining the RA Schools. In 1796 he exhibited his first oil painting and in 1799, aged just 24, he was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy. 

Turner’s experiments in capturing light and shade, particularly paintings such as Rain, Steam and Speed, bemused some contemporary viewers, but are now seen as highlights of his career. In later years, Turner became known as something of an eccentric, often deliberately submitting incomplete works to the Summer Exhibition and rapidly finishing them in the gallery just before the official opening. He is famously said to have added a bright red buoy to his Dutch seascape Helvoetsluys in a bid to outdo his rival, John Constable. A crestfallen Constable apparently compared the event to Turner walking in and firing a gun.

Turner died in 1851. His grave lies close to Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Lawrence in St Paul’s Cathedral, in accordance with his wish to be “buried among my Brothers in Art”. - Royal Academy