Wednesday, March 8, 2017

William Turner: A Painter Of Light

Just last month I wrote about The Frick Collection, and spoke about the wonderful range of great art and artists that are represented in this small, but important museum.

Taking place at the Frick, from now through until mid-May 2017, is a special exhibition titled “Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages Through Time,” at which three monumental paintings by Turner will be on show, along with thirty or so other works encompassing oil, watercolours, and prints. The three major paintings at the centre of the exhibition are Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile, Cologne; The Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, and The Harbor of Brest: The Quayside and Ch√Ęteau, which is on loan from Tate Britain. The three port scenes are being shown together for the first time.

From Wikipedia we learn that Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) was an English Romanticist landscape painter who was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an importance that rivalled the painting of historic themes which was a very common practice when he was working as an artist. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting, and is commonly referred to as "the painter of light”.

Many of Turner’s greatest paintings are characterised by his unique pallet, which used newly invented pigments such as chrome yellow, and chrome orange. These gave his most famous works a golden hue that captured the light from the sun at its most evocative point, either early in the morning or later in the evening.

Although Henry Clay Frick bought Harbor of Dieppe and Arrival of a Packet-Boat, more than a century ago, the first American to buy a Turner painting was the New Yorker, James Lenox, a private collector. In 1845, Lenox bought—sight-unseen—the 1832 atmospheric seascape Staffa, Fingal's Cave. On receiving the painting Lenox was baffled, and "greatly disappointed" by what he called the painting's "indistinctness". When his views were relayed back to William Turner, Turner is said to have replied, "You should tell Mr Lenox that indistinctness is my forte.”

In April 2006, Christie's New York auctioned Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio, a view of Venice exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841, for US$35.8 million, setting a new record for a Turner work.

If you can’t make to the exhibition itself, here is a short video produced by the Frick which takes a closer look at the three paintings, and some of the other works that form that exhibition.

“Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages Through Time”
At The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St.
On now through May 14, 2017
More about Turner at Wikipedia… 

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