This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.Rising from a modest background, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) became the leading British artist of his era. Over the course of six decades, he transformed the genre of landscape through works that proclaimed him heir to the old masters even while they heralded a new and visionary direction in 19th-century painting. Known for his technical brilliance and startling use of light and color, he incorporated learned references to literature, mythology, and historical events in his pictures. His commitment to the idea that watercolor equaled oil painting in complexity and expressive power raised the standard for others working in the medium. And his exquisitely rendered works, heralded for their virtuosity, inspired generations of artists.
This exhibition is the most comprehensive survey of Turner's work ever presented in the United States. More than 145 paintings and watercolors reveal the astonishing talent and imagination of this artist—whom Alfred, Lord Tennyson called "The Shakespeare of landscape."
The British aristocracy's love of the countryside will be revealed in British Picturesque Landscapes, a focus installation of engravings and colored prints of scenic Great Britain from late 18th- and early 19th-century books, including three engravings of paintings by Turner. Exceptional images from 19 books will be on view as well.
The exhibition will be divided into four display cases. The first will contain engravings after works by Turner, including one from The Turner Gallery: A Series of One Hundred and Twenty Engravings from the Works of the Late J.M.W. Turner (1878). The second case will present travel books authored by William Gilpin (1724–1804), featuring bucolic country scenes of the Scottish Highlands, of Wales, and along the River Wye.
The third case will include charming landscapes and seascapes from books by Samuel Ireland (d. 1800), Louis Simond (1767–1831), and Rudolph Ackermann (1764–1834). The final case will feature prints of country manors that show how man intervened in the landscape to create idealized settings. Two books in the case present views of South Winfield Manor and Kenilworth. Also on view will be two books by John Claudius Loudon (1783–1843), with before-and-after engravings used by this landscape architect to promote his designs. The Loudon volumes were part of a recent acquisition from the Leo and Grega Daly Fund for Architectural Books.
J.M.W. Turner film
This excerpt is from a new documentary chronicling the rise of one of the greatest landscape painters of all time, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), who rendered the subtle effects of light and atmosphere in revolutionary ways. A barber's son, he entered the Royal Academy art school at age fourteen and became, over the course of six decades, the leading British artist of his era. This overview of Turner's career and influences includes footage of locations important to him in Wales, Switzerland, and England, and readings from writers and artists of the era, including John Ruskin and Lord Byron. A 30-minute version of the film may be purchased at the National Gallery of Art. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, the film was produced by the Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition J.M.W. Turner.
This film is made possible by the HRH Foundation.
Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Dallas Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in association with Tate Britain, London.
Sponsor: The exhibition is sponsored by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.
Bank of America is proud to be the national sponsor.
The exhibition is made possible in part through the generous support of Access Industries.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.