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.
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