• gerard van weyenbergh

Paintings and watercolors by William Turner, 1/2

The Jacquemart-André museum presents a retrospective of the painter William Turner. Undoubtedly the most outstanding representative of the golden age of English watercolor, he exploited its effects of light and transparency on English landscapes or Venetian lagoons.

Visiting the Tomb by JMW Turner (1775 - 1851), exhibited in 1850, oil on canvas, Tate • Credits: © Tate

Once again, it was necessary to celebrate Turner, this artist who gave painting a new responsibility, the representation of the landscape, the landscape apprehended by the great painter, like the scene where the perpetual drama of the forces in conflict is played out.

Joseph Mallord William Turner who arose at the age of 15, a precocious pupil of the Royal Academy in London in 1789, at the very moment when the wind of revolutions rose, when the immense artists such as David, Füssli, Blake and soon Goya, Friedrich, become the tragedians of painting. But the Turner that we follow today, from his first landscapes that celebrate the colossal architectures of medieval England to Venice's delicate colors, is the insatiable traveler. The one who, reassured by a precocious glory, sinks into the desire for painting little by little overflowing all conventions. Whoever travels in England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and elsewhere celebrates the great actors of nature: sun, wind, rain, ice, fire, waves, storm, or simple reflections on water and calm.

By being free and insatiable, curious about the world, he sows the seeds of the centuries to come. The romanticism of Delacroix and the dark paintings of Victor Hugo; Pissarro, who will gladly recall that the Impressionists are his debtors, and one could of course also have said abstraction.

An exhibition invites us to resume this astonishing journey by retaining for our curiosity, not the great historical works evoked in counterpoint, but those that, for the most part, he made for himself, allowing us to follow him in the privacy of his research. This is the Turner exhibition, paintings, watercolors, and Tate collection at the Jacquemart-André Museum, with Pierre Curie, curator of the exhibition's museum and co-curator.

A precocious painter

Very quickly, the talents of young Turner were spotted as he worked for architectural firms. He trained at the same time at the Royal Academy, where he entered as a student at the age of 13. At 14-15 years old, he will already be perfectly master of his medium, which is above all drawing. There is a kind of perspective specialization. He would later become a professor of perspective at the Royal Academy. The Royal Academy of London is an institution sponsored, headed by the King. He will establish the rules of good taste through the exhibitions it offers and through the promotion of artists. It is both a school of Fine Arts but also a kind of Ministry of Culture for England. Turner has managed, through his official career, to make a good living. He often exhibited, he was bought, frequently sought after as an artist. He also worked a lot for publishing, which was evolving at that time. We begin to know how to reproduce works of art by engraving new processes in an almost industrial way. He is a known and recognized artist of his time. © France Culture