'Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa' by J.M.W Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 to 1851, was an English Romanticist landscape painter.
He was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, he is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting, and is commonly known as the painter of light while his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.In 1785, due to his mother showing signs of the mental disturbance for which she was admitted first to St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics in Old Street in 1799 and then Bethlem Hospital in 1800, the young Turner was sent to stay with his maternal uncle in Brentford, then a small town on the banks of the River Thames west of London. The earliest known artistic exercise by Turner is from this period - a series of simple colourings of engraved plates from Henry Boswell's Picturesque View of the Antiquities of England and Wales. Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate on the north-east Kent coast. Here he produced a series of drawings of the town and surrounding area foreshadowing his later work. Turner returned to Margate many times in later life.
By this time, Turner's drawings were being exhibited in his father's shop window and sold for a few shillings. His father proudly told the artist Thomas Stothard My son, sir, is going to be a painter. In 1789, Turner again stayed with his uncle who had retired to Sunningwell. A whole sketchbook of work from this time in Berkshire survives as well as a watercolour of Oxford. The use of pencil sketches on location, as the foundation for later finished paintings, formed the basis of Turner's essential working style for his whole career. Many early sketches by Turner were architectural studies and/or exercises in perspective, and it is known that, as a young man, he worked for several architects including Thomas Hardwick, James Wyatt and Joseph Bonomi the Elder. By the end of 1789, he had also begun to study under the topographical draughtsman Thomas Malton whom Turner would later call My real master. He entered the Royal Academy of Art schools in 1789, when he was 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture, but was advised by the architect Thomas Hardwick to continue painting. His first watercolour painting A View of he Archbishop's Palace, Lambethwas accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition of 1790 when Turner was 15