National Maritime Museum Greenwich to end year with "sublime" Turner and the Sea show

By Culture24 Reporter | 05 September 2013

The National Maritime Museum will unveil the most comprehensive overview of JMW Turner’s lifelong fascination with the sea yet in a 120-work exhibition this November, described by curators as “dramatic”, “violent” and ultimately “sublime”.

A photo of a swirling painting of a boat within a stormy sea under cloud-filled skies
JMW Turner, Snow Storm – Steam-boat off a Harbour's Mouth (1842). Oil on canvas© Tate
Seeing water as an unstoppable element, Turner will be portrayed as the pre-eminent painter of oceans. The Fighting Temeraire, Staffa, Fingal’s Cave and Calais Pier are among the works stretching from his Royal Academy Paintings of the late 18th century to the experimental seascapes he toyed with at the end of his life.

“He was the 19th century’s greatest and most prolific marine artist,” says Kevin Fewster, of the hosts, who have procured loans from the likes of the National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lisbon’s Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

“Naval and maritime Greenwich provided a rich source of inspiration.

“So obvious is Turner’s fascination with the sea, I was surprised to discover that a major exhibition devoted to this theme in his work had not been previously staged.

“I am glad that this omission has allowed us to put together this wonderful exhibition, which I hope will be an inspiration for art lovers and lovers of the sea alike.’

Fewster feels the museum is an “especially appropriate venue” for the show, which will make comparable space for paintings by major British and European artists such as Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable.

  • Turner and the Sea opens on November 22 2013.

More pictures:

An image of a painting of a boat half wrecked on a rough sea under grey skies
Calais Pier, with French Poissards Preparing for Sea: An English Packet Arriving. Oil on canvas (exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1803)© National Gallery, London
An image of a painting of blazing ships on a sea under a blue sky
Keelmen heaving in Coal by Moonlight (1835). Oil on canvas© Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
An image of a painting of boats on a reasonably stormy sea under a sky at dusk
Now for the Painter (Rope) – Passengers Going on Board (1827). Oil on canvas© Manchester City Galleries
An image of a dark painting of a boat on an extremely stormy sea
The Shipwreck (exhibited at Turner’s gallery, 1805). Oil on canvas© Tate
An image of a painting of the sea at dusk with a ship visible
The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1838 (1839). Oil on canvas© National Gallery, London
An image of a painting of a boat surrounded by people on dinghies on a sea
The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 (1823–24). Oil on canvas© National Maritime Museum (Greenwich Hospital Collection)
What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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Far too many Turner exhibitions and too little concern for the permanent Turner collection
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