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J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

  • Edited by David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon, and Sam Smiles

    When the prolific British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) died at the age of 76, his contemporaries held a generally negative view of his recent work, describing it as indulgent, eccentric, and even repulsive. But over the past century, a number of curators and critics have reassessed Turner’s late paintings. Instead of finding his employment of shimmering color to evoke light unpleasant or unskilled, they have seen it as a precursor to the Impressionists and consider his use of abstraction to be distinctly modern.

    In this elegantly conceived volume, leading experts on Turner consider these contrasting views of the artist in a groundbreaking exploration of his paintings. They examine his notes and sketchbooks to determine whether his health may have impacted his art and how Victorian views of old age influenced perceptions of the elderly artist. They also question the notion that Turner’s late work articulated a conclusive, radical vision heedless of public reaction, for evidence makes clear that he had a firm idea of the art market in his day.

    Fully illustrated in color, this book is published on the occasion of an exhibition on view at the Tate Britain, London, from September 15, 2014, through January 18, 2015; at the J. Paul Getty Museum from February 24 through May 24, 2015; and at the de Young Museum in San Francisco from June 20 through September 20, 2015.

    David Blayney Brown is Manton Curator of British Art, 1790–1850, Tate Britain, where Amy Concannon is assistant curator of British Art, 1790–1850. Sam Smiles is program director for Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter.

    “This handsome book, and the exhibition it accompanies, celebrate Turner's later work as the culmination of a lifetime of experimentation by an aged painter. . . . The well-written text (short essays and catalogue entries) comes with endnote documentation, an index, a chronology of Turner's last years, and a thorough bibliography. The illustrations are uniformly excellent. . . . Highly recommended.”

    “This splendid work of scholarship and passion, with excellent reproductions and an impressive bibliography, should be on the shelves of every art library.”
    Library Journal


    224 pages
    9 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches
    130 color 
ISBN 978-1-60606-427-6

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum


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