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J.M.W. Turner

The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16th October, 1834, 1835, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The John Howard McFadden Collection, 1928

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The Junction of the Thames and the Medway, 1807, oil on canvas, Widener Collection, 1942.9.87

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Painted in golden tones of butter and harvest yellow, tawny brown, and olive green, a low wall stretches diagonally from the lower right corner off to our left, dividing a river to our right from a grassy lawn to our left in this horizontal landscape painting. The waist-high wall is lined with tall trees with high canopies, which fill most of the composition. Close to us, at the lower center of the painting, a hoop rests against the end of a second, low wall. A short ladder with four rungs leans against a tree trunk in the lower left corner. Only a sliver of the ivy-covered trunk rises along the left edge of the painting. A short distance away, two chairs near a small, square-topped wooden table sit on the grass under the long shadows of the tall trees. Two or three people, seeming to wear long skirts, stand or sit on the long wall that spans the width of the painting, behind a nearby tree trunk. A navy blue garment lays over the wall to our right and a black dog walks balances on the wall near the center of the painting, beyond the people. Barely visible, a small white dog stands with its front paws on the wall next to the black dog. A pathway alongside the trees and wall leads to a covered structure with a triangular pediment roof held up by fluted columns in the distance. Several long, low barges filled with people float in the river to our right. Red and white flags flutter in the breeze and the full, rectangular sails of a couple of the boats are raised. The placid surface of the river is thickly painted, especially where the small disk of the pale yellow sun reflects on the golden surface of the water below. The horizon comes about a third of the way up the composition and is lined in the deep distance with a band of loosely painted, muted, mauve-colored buildings and trees.

Mortlake Terrace, 1827, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.109

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Rotterdam Ferry-Boat, 1833, oil on canvas, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection, 1970.17.135

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Butter yellow clouds and water, a periwinkle sky, and pale plum-colored buildings blend in hazy, indistinct bands across this horizontal landscape painting. The blurry horizon comes about a third of the way up the composition and the small, round, white sun shines low in the sky to our left. The sky or clouds around the sun are painted with shades of pale sapphire-blue with touches of lavender, which give way to a lemon-yellow clouds or haze in the right two-thirds of the sky. Buildings along the horizon, deep in the distance across the right three-quarters of the canvas, are loosely painted with vertical swipes of heather-pink and cream-white. The water, closest to us, reflects the yellow of the sky with additional touches of celery green. Brown boats spaced along the harbor carry people and objects away from us, towards the town. The paint is thickly applied in some areas, especially along the top of the sky, and the scene is loosely painted with visible brushstrokes throughout.

Approach to Venice, 1844, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.110

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We seem to stand on or over the water looking across a glittering canal lined with long, low boats and sailboats at an ivory colored church in the distance to our right in this horizontal landscape painting. The horizon line comes about a third of the way up the composition and wispy white clouds sweep across the brilliant azure blue sky above. A row of buildings comes into view lining the canal to our right, with a terracotta colored building followed by a creamy white building beyond, both angled towards the church. The church has a high dome rising beyond the temple-like front with columns and a triangular pediment. A tall bell tower rises to the left of the church. The low boats, gondolas, to our left are packed with people while a few gondolas floating in the center of the canal appear occupied only by their gondoliers standing and holding their poles. Painted in tones of ivory and apricot, the sails of boats behind the gondolas to our left billow in the breeze while the sails of vessels docked to our right are furled. The structures, boats, and people cast shimmering reflections on the glass-like water of the canal. Rows of boats and buildings lining the canal extend seemingly indefinitely into the deep distance to our left.

Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore, 1834, oil on canvas, Widener Collection, 1942.9.85

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We seem to hover over a flaxen-colored, yellow-gray body of water lined with ships to our left and right, which are silhouetted against a moonlit, cloud-veiled sky, which fills the top two-thirds of this horizontal landscape painting. The moon hangs to our left of center in the sky, its light reflecting on the clouds in a bright, hourglass shape to create a tunnel-like effect. The sea below turns from a golden, gray color close to us to pale blue along the horizon. To our left, one ship with gray sails is cut off by the edge of the canvas and another, also with gray sails, is situated farther away from us. A small, dark rowboat with two passengers moves between them. Light from the windows in buildings along the distant horizon to our left reflect in the water, and another building, a factory, spouts white flame from its chimney. More dark ships line the waterway to our right, their spiky masts black against the sky. Three flames, one orange between two pale yellow fires, flare in the darkness in front of the ship closest to us. The forms of men shoveling coal, crates, and barges are dark silhouettes against the firelight and smoke. More rowboats float among the boats in the distance. Near the lower right corner of the canvas, a broad, flat fragment of wood, perhaps a piece of a wreckage, floats close to us. The hot orange and black on the right side of the painting contrasts with the silvery grey, light blue, and white that fills much of the rest of the composition. The painting was created with thick, blended brushstrokes throughout, giving the scene a hazy look. The texture of some of the brushstrokes is especially noticeable, as where the moon casts white light onto the water and in the clouds. The artist signed a buoy floating to our left with his initials, “JMWT.”

Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight, 1835, oil on canvas, Widener Collection, 1942.9.86

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A butter-yellow sky fills the top two-thirds of this square landscape painting while in the bottom third, a brown structure is surrounded by golden yellow and pine-green forms like clouds. The scene is loosely painted with visible brushstrokes, so much of the detail is indistinct and the view seems hazy. Clouds spiral around the sun or moon, painted as a pale yellow disk, hanging in the center of the sky. The golden yellow clouds near the center darken to slate gray then rust brown, and nearly wine-red along the top edge. A flock of birds painted as a dense band of navy and denim blue Vs curve around the sun and continue into the deep distance. Below, touches of burgundy red and brown could indicate people or animals around the arched, copper-brown structure. Cloud-like puffs in forest green and golden yellow could suggest a forest or wildly crashing waves. A few faint outlines in this area suggest a bear, crocodile, giraffe, and maybe other ghostly creatures.

The Evening of the Deluge, c. 1843, oil on canvas, Timken Collection, 1960.6.40

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The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834, 1835, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Bequest of John L. Severance

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