The Life of J. M. W. Turner
This pioneering two-volume biography, first published in 1862, explores the genius of the groundbreaking Romantic landscape and historical painter J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). As both journalist and historian, author Walter Thornbury (1828–76) has a light touch, yet he draws on a wide range of correspondence, sketchbooks, watercolours and etchings to give a detailed picture of Turner's artistic development and connections, and his increasingly eccentric character. Volume 1 traces the artist's progress from humble cockney beginnings, through youthful friendship and rivalry with Thomas Girtin and a stint as a drawing-master, to his establishment as a Royal Academician at the heart of the nineteenth-century art world. Thornbury sees Turner from all angles, covering his travels at home and abroad, his watercolour and printmaking techniques, his love of sea and sky and colour gradations, and even his fraught monetary dealings. The author also fully contextualises great works like Ulysses Deriding Polythemus and The Fighting Temeraire.