(London, 1775-id., 1851) British painter. William Turner was a precocious artist, admitted as a pupil to the Royal Academy at the age of fourteen, of which he was appointed associate member in 1799, at the age of twenty-four, and of which he was also, later, professor and vice-president. His early penchant for painting became a vocation as a landscape painter from the outset, to the extent that landscape was the only subject he cultivated and of which he became an undisputed master.
From 1792 onwards, he got into the habit of noting down landscapes and views in order to sell them to engravers or later transform them into oils or watercolours. This line of work, maintained throughout his life, is at the origin of the large number of drawings he left after his death, as well as those included in works such as Ports of England or Picturesque Views of the Southern Coasts of England.
Although his work was the subject of much discussion, he had unconditional admirers and patrons, such as the Third Earl of Egremont and John Ruskin. He therefore enjoyed great economic relief, which enabled him to make constant trips to different countries (France, Switzerland, Italy), which are a memorable souvenir, for example his series of views of Venice.
From the beginning, his landscapes are completely romantic because of the dramatic nature of the subjects he deals with and show a particular interest in atmospheric space and light effects. These two traits, most characteristic of his particular style, continued to be present until the end of his career, although in increasingly schematic and abstract compositions in which colour took an absolute place. In his final years, he led a solitary existence, with the almost exclusive presence of his mistress, Sophia Booth.
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