J. M. W. Turner
Date of Birth: 234/1775
Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker. He was considered a controversial figure in his day but also considered one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. Born in London, Turner's first job was as an assistant to an architect. At the age of fourteen he decided to become an artist, and began to study at the schools of the Royal Academy. His early work consisted of drawings and watercolours on paper; it was some years before he felt ready to start painting in oils. Success came relatively early, and in 1803, at the age of twenty-seven, he began work on the spacious gallery in his house in Harley Street, although he maintained strong links to the Royal Academy. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely and suitable vehicles for Turner's imagination were to be found in the subjects of shipwrecks, fires, natural catastrophes, and natural phenomena such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He became known as "the painter of light", because of his increasing interest in brilliant colours. Turner became interested in contemporary technology, as can be seen from "The Fighting Temeraire"'. At the time his free, expressive treatment of these subjects was criticised, but it is now widely appreciated. Turner bequeathed much of his work to the nation.