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Interesting facts about Joseph Mallord William Turner
Dawit Abeza
Interesting facts about Joseph Mallord William Turner

Interesting facts about Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner (regularly abbreviated to J.M.W. Turner) was a British landscape artist who was known as the "Painter of Light". With an expansive scope of compositions, he painted with a iridescent style that gave his works a liquid quality. He utilized his artistic talents to portray the compelling force of nature in his own authentic style. 

J.M.W. Turner Paintings

Facts about J.M.W. Turner

Here are the Interesting facts about Joseph Mallord William Turner: 

1. He was the child of a stylist and wig producer.

Turner was conceived in London around 1775 and his complete name was Joseph Mallord William Turner. The youthful Turner had a passion for drawing and his dad offered his clients a few of Turner paintings for a couple of shillings each.

At the age of ten, due to his mother's mental illness, Turner was sent to live with an uncle. 

Joseph sold his first painting at age thirteen. Turner attended the drawing classes of Thomas Malton, an English painter of topographical and architectural views. Turner later called Malton his “real master”. 

In Turner's later years, his dad lived with him and filled in as his cook, gardener, and studio colleague.  

2. He formally started his vocation at the Royal Academy of Arts at a young age. 

At 15 years old he had painted a watercolor composition that was highly acknowledged by the Royal Academy of Arts. A couple of years after that, his first oil painting was on display. Turner was also chosen as a partner/teacher at the Royal Academy of Arts at the young age of twenty-four.

He gave private lessons/exercises and got years of experience as an educator. Eventually, Turner accepted a position as professor at the Royal Academy, where he lectured until 1828. The school facilitated his first presentations and compositions and kept it on display until he died. 


Fishermen at Sea by J. M. W. Turner 

Fishermen at Sea by J. M. W. Turner

 (Painted at the age of 14)


3. Turner effortlessly enjoyed painting various landscapes styles.


His initial style was exceptionally classical and imitated the old masters. He was often contracted to imitate or copy incomplete drawings of John Robert Cozens, a landscapist who was popular during his time. Turner appeared to be competing against himself and he drew motivation from his own paintings.

One of the reasons that Turner was so remarkable was because he enjoyed drawing and painting ‘en Plein air’, which means out in the open. This was unique in Turner’s day as most artists painted in their studios. Turner carried his sketchbooks, canvases, and paints with him almost every day and he painted what he would see all the time.

4. His inheritance incorporated various drawings from his movements. 

Turner went to Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia, making around 19,000 representations of views all through his excursions.

Despite being very much a voyager and among hist elitist peers, he never lost his Cockney intonation and stayed a genuine Londoner.  

5. Turner inspired the contemporary Danish-Icelandic artist.

Eliasson states "I have carefully dissected the amount of color tones, darkness and brightness in a group of Turner paintings, and then made a kind of 'color chart portrait' of each one, using the exact same colors and amount of light and darkness." 

6. His dying wish was to advance art for future generations.

Turner wished to utilize his riches to help "artists", yet most of the £140,000 fortune was given to his far off family members because of their claim to it. He gave his paintings to the National Gallery, given that they are to be displayed in a different exhibition. 

57 years after his passing, a significant number of his oil paintings were at long last moved to the Tate Gallery. The Turner Prize, granted yearly to a visual artist younger than 50, is named after J. M. W. Turner.  

7. J. M. W. Turner is one of the most famous British painters.

He is known today for his sentimental landscapes and seascapes and is frequently observed as one of the most punctual present-day artists.

He delivered more than 500 paintings, more than 2,000 watercolors and more than 30,000 drawings during his vocation. His famous works incorporate Rain, Steam and Speed, The Fighting Temeraire, and Fishermen At Sea. 


Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway by J. M. W. Turner

Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway


8. At age 18, he was rich enough to have his own London studio.  

He wanted to paint storms, difficult situations, and flames. He hurried to the Houses of Parliament when he heard that it was ablaze, to catch the flares in a painting.  

9. A significant number of Turner's paintings have an emotional motif of light vs darkness.

His utilization of light affected the famous Impressionist artists who were painted toward the finish of the nineteenth century.  

10. Turner frequently drank a great deal, drinking a few pints of rum within a day. 

He some times applied stale brew to his paintings and even spat on them to make them look progressively old.  

11. J. M. W. Turner voyaged a ton into France, Italy, and Switzerland. 

Turner continued to travel in his later years, visiting Germany, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia. He had a passion for painting the cathedral in Venice, and one of his most famous works is The Grand Canal Venice, painted in 1835.  

12. Turner passed on in 1851, in London.

As he passed, he was covered in Westminster Abbey by numerous famous scholars, artists, and researchers.  

He had two little girls from the widow Sarah Danby. In his later life, Turner imparted his home to widow Sophia Caroline Booth.

What did William Turner die of?

Turner died of cholera at the home of Sophia Caroline Booth, in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, on 19 December 1851. He is buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where he rests near Sir Joshua Reynolds. He lived for 76 years (1775–1851). 

Rain Steam And Speed The Great Western Railway Analysis

J. M. W. Turner Quotes

"To select, combine and concentrate that which is beautiful in nature and admirable in art is as much the business of the landscape painter in his line as in the other departments of art." - J. M. W. Turner 

"I have no secret but hard work. This is a secret that many never learn, and they don't succeed because they don't learn it. Labor is the genius that changes the world from ugliness to beauty, and the great curse to a great blessing." - J. M. W. Turner

"I don't paint so that people will understand me, I paint to show what a particular scene looks like." - J. M. W. Turner

"Light is therefore color." - J. M. W. Turner

"It is only when we are no longer fearful that we begin to create." - J. M. W. Turner

"Painting can never show her nose in company with architecture but to have it snubbed." - J. M. W. Turner


The Slave Ship by J. M. W. Turner

The Slave Ship by J. M. W. Turner



"If I could find anything blacker than black I'd use it."- J. M. W. Turner

"It is necessary to mark the greater from the lesser truth: namely the larger and more liberal idea of nature from the comparatively narrow and confined; namely that which addresses itself to the imagination from that which is solely addressed to the eye." - J. M. W. Turner 

"I hate married men. They never make any sacrifices to the arts, but are always thinking of their duties to their wives and families or some rubbish of that sort." - J. M. W. Turner 

"In our variable climate where [all] the seasons are recognizable in one day, where all the vapoury turbulence involves the face of things, where nature seems to sport in all: her dignity and dispensing incidents for the artist’s study.. happily is the landscape painter situated, how roused by every change in nature in every moment, that allows no languor even in her effects which she places before him, and demands most peremptorily every moment his admiration and investigation, to store his mind with every change of time and place."

- Quote from Turner's lectures, 1811; as cited in Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Andrew Wilton; London: Academy Editions, 1979; as quoted in 'A brief history of weather in European landscape art', John E. Thornes, in Weather Volume 55, Issue 10 Oct. 2000, p. 367-368 

J. M. W. Turner Legacy

J. M. W. Turner is regarded by countless art historians to be the most renowned landscape artist in history. His paintings have had a major influence on various artists to come after him including motivating many of the impressionist artists.

In his beginning compositions, Turner ventured to master other techniques he respected, such as realism, by studying the methods of Willem van der Velde and Claude Lorrain.

Turner became fascinated by natural calamities, and natural appearances such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He was intrigued by the mighty power of the ocean. His compositions revolve around the light of the sun, shown in perpetual variations.
His artwork presented some of the ideas of the impressionists years before they came on the scene.


Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth by J. M. W. Turner

Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth by J. M. W. Turner


Monet, in particular, studied Turner's techniques. His most well-known paintings include The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up. Often called just The Fighting Temeraire, this is a representation of a legendary warship that was used in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Other paintings include Rain, Steam, and Speed, which shows a steam train crossing a bridge, and Snowstorm which shows a steamship in a snowstorm seeking to get into a harbor.

To get the right impression into his compositions, he would bound himself to ship's during a storm, so that he could see what it was like. Some of his most famous paintings show the severity of nature, with bleak landscapes and violent storms.


Check out these Famous Artists who have shaped the art world!

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