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Turner Douglas Skeggs Wednesday 13 November 2019

At the age of ten Turner travelled out to Brentford to stay with his uncle. It was the first time he’d seen the open countryside. Born in 1775, the son of a barber, he was brought up in the bustling market place of Covent Garden; the only landscape he knew as a child was the misty reaches of the Thames. That first, momentous vision of nature set the course of his career and, as a young man, he walked hundreds of miles across southern England, the Lake district and Scotland, recording his observations in rapid drawings and watercolours that he worked up later into full scale paintings. At the turn of the century he became the youngest member of the Royal Academy and his romantic interpretations of stately homes and sweeping parkland became the cherished possessions of the English aristocracy. His love of travel took him to Europe and, at the age of 44, he made his first trip to Italy in search of the clear light he’d seen in paintings by Claude Lorrain. It made a powerful impression on him and from then on the mountain passes of the Alps, the pines of Rome, the canals of Venice became part of his mythical world of mist and vapour, shimmering light and deep shadow. At the time of his death in 1851, Turner stood alone in English painting; a master of technique, colour theory and perspective with a near spiritual comprehension of nature - the giant of Romantic Art.