Painter - JMW Turner
A self-portrait by Turner, painted when he was around 24 years old.

Painter - JMW Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in Covent Garden, London, in 1775. In 1789, at the age of 14, he entered the Royal Academy of Art and one year later his watercolour painting A View of the Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth was accepted for exhibition.

As a young man Turner travelled Europe and spent some time studying in the Louvre, Paris, before returning to Britain to pursue his career.

Turner was thought of as a controversial man during his life. He had few close friends and never married, although he is thought to have been the father of two daughters born to his lover, Sarah Danby.

Turner is considered to be the master of British watercolour landscapes and he is responsible for the popularisation of this genre, giving it equal status to the more widely accepted historical paintings.

Turner died on the 19th of December 1851, aged 76. His last words were "The Sun is God". He is buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral next to one of the founding members of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds.

For a closer look at the pictures, please click on them to enlarge.
In a 2005 poll conducted by BBC Radio 4's Today programme, The Fighting Temeraire of 1838 was voted to which position?
The UK's favourite painting
The UK's second favourite painting
The UK's third favourite painting
The UK's fourth favourite painting
The full title of the piece is The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up. It shows a veteran ship of the Battle of Trafalgar being towed along the River Thames to be taken apart for scrap.
Turner had lived near to the River Thames for most of his life, and many of his paintings of ships are inspired by scenes he had witnessed
Inspired by a 1748 poem by James Thomson, what is the title of this piece first exhibited in 1834?
The Fountain of Ignorance
The Fountain of Folly
The Fountain of Indolence
The Fountain of Faith
Some believe that this painting was also The Fountain of Fallacy exhibited in 1839, descriptions of which match perfectly with The Fountain of Indolence
Painted around 1844, Rain, Steam and Speed has the name of which 19th century company as its subtitle?
Stockton and Darlington Railway
The Great Western Railway
Midland & South West Junction Railway
London, Midland and Scottish Railway
In the bottom-right of the painting a small hare cane be seen. This may be indicative of the inferiority of man's inventions when compared to nature (trains of the time had maximum speeds of about 30mph) or alternatively the hare might be fleeing from this new force of destruction - the train
One of Turner's historical works, this is a depiction of which volcano erupting?
Painted in 1817, Eruption of Vesuvius shows the disaster of 79 AD which destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii. The painting is thought to illustrate man's helplessness against the power of nature, or God
The Battle of Trafalgar was painted by Turner in 1824 at the request of which British monarch?
George III
George IV
William IV
The painting was commissioned 19 years after the battle to hang in the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich. The main feature of the work is Lord Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, displaying the now famous signal, "England expects that every man will do his duty"
First exhibited in 1815, Crossing the Brook is thought to be of which river, which can be found in both Devon and Cornwall?
Turner visited the region in 1811 and 1813, making drawings and watercolours of the landscape. This particular piece is an oil painting and is a grand and patriotic representation of the British landscape at the time of the Napoleonic Wars
This painting of 1812 depicts which historical character attempting to cross the Alps?
Julius Caesar
Alexander the Great
Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps shows the Carthaginian commander having difficulties as he crosses the mountains to invade Rome. The powers of nature (in the form of a snowstorm) and humanity (tribesmen fighting with Hannibal's rear-guard) are uniting to hinder the army's passage
Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon Coming On shows a restless sea laden with human forms. These have been cast overboard from the ship which can be seen in the background. What is the more common and less formal name of this painting which was created in 1840?
The Typhoon
The Slave Ship
Although slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire for some 33 years when the painting was created, Turner believed that it should be outlawed globally. The picture was exhibited during an anti-slavery conference.
It is thought to have been inspired by the true story of a slave ship captain who had ordered 133 slaves to be thrown overboard for the purposes of an insurance claim
Also known as The Rise of the Carthaginian Empire this painting shows the ancient city of Carthage being built by which legendary figure?
The painting's official title is Dido building Carthage and it shows the mythological queen directing the city's construction.
Turner is said to have believed this work to be his 'chef d'oeuvre', or masterpiece
This is one of two paintings by Turner showing which London landmark aflame?
Saint Paul's Cathedral
Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abbey
The Houses of Parliament
Turner witnessed for himself the fire which happened in 1834. The Palace of Westminster was destroyed and the world heritage site which we recognise today was built in the following decades.
Turner painted two pictures of the fire, both entitled The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons and both now in the keeping of American museums


Author:  Graeme Haw

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