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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Turner was a famous British Romanticist artist from the 18th and 19th centuries who produced breaktaking oil paintings, drawings and watercolours.

Turner paintings include some of the finest British art ever seen, with JMW (Joseph Mallord William) Turner establishing himself as crucial to the rise of the Romanticist art movement across Britain. The contributions of Turner helped to bring about much greater international recognition and interest in British painters who previously had lagged behind those from France, Italy and Spain in terms of legacy and innovation. Turner's skills were not only technically solid but the artist also helped to bring new ideas into European art through his innovative ideas and it was unusual to see a British artist at this time influencing so many others.

William Turner and John Constable are generally regarded as the best British painters from the 18th and 19th century and had a massive impact in persuading art academics that landscape painting was a skilled and worthwhile approach that was worthy of respect. Previously there had been much less interest in landscape painting and their influence was needed to bring it more into the mainstream alongside accepted alternatives like portraits and religious depictions.

John Constable was equally skilled, technically, but was not as innovative and original as JMW Turner which is why the latter's legacy should remain stronger. Turner's love for landscape painting is shown in the distinct lack of any other style of painting from his entire career, which is also the case with John Constable. Turner spent all his time he had in developing and experimenting within his landscape works to get as good an understanding of light as he could. Turner was particularly interested by the effect of light and also weather on the objects within the scene.

Fighting Temeraire

Fighting Temeraire is the most famous painting from Turner and is a detailed oil on canvas work which portrays a large ship set against a highly stylised background landscape. The full title of the painting is The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, and several other works from Turner that cover seascapes have equally long names which have since been abbreviated for simplicity.

It is difficult to find an artist more well known for seascapes than Turner, and he would normally have objects within them such as Warships, rather than just an empty seascape by itself. Fighting Temeraire benefits from the artist's timing, with this sunset scene enabling Turner to use many of his bright colours that were always loved by any romanticist artist. Turner would concentrate on skies within his paintings to a great level of detail as he knew that these held the key to the balance of most of his paintings and so it was essential that he captured them correctly.

Rain Steam Speed

Rain Steam Speed is one of the best known paintings from JMW Turner and features the artist's blurry Romanticist style which leaves an exciting work that accurately gets across the feeling of activity which the artist would have experienced at the time.

Turner paintings can be found within the Turner Wing in London and this specially dedicated area contains a permanent collection of many of his best works and currently contains predominantly watercolours, but with so much of his career on show right across London it is easily the best place to visit if you want to see his original paintings in person. There are also some of his drawings on display too. You can buy your own Rain, Steam and Speed painting to add to your wall from the links included above alongside the image of the work.

Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal Venice is a very important painting from Turner and represents his time spent in Italy when the lure of exceptional architecture and clear blue skies was enough to bring the artist to this passionate country where he could find many inspirational elements for his work. Turner found this country very suitable to his watercolours and it was here that many of his finest works with in this medium were produced.

The Grand Canal is actually one of the biggest attractions with in Venice, both then and now and this scene also allows the artist to carefully plan the angle from which he depicts the canal so that he can also include important architecture with in the painting as well. It was quite rare for an artist to take the plunge and travel around Europe in search of new influences during the time of Turner and his travels underline his own personal confidence as well as his strong desire to progress his technical skills and innovative ideas as far as he possibly could.

Dogana and Santa Maria Della Salute

Dogana and Santa Maria Della Salute is another masterful work from Turner's Venetian series and again captures a cross canal scene with architecture sat in the backgound in Turner's usual Romanticist style which leaves edges blurred together in a dreamy finish. You can see the Dogana and Santa Maria Della Salute painting above and it is available to buy from the gallery which is linked to through out this website.

There is a great collection of Turner's Venice paintings included there for you to enjoy. JMW Turner would focus on certain key elements included in each of his paintings and firstly there would be a consideration of the reflections of light across the work, particularly when he was painting water in some form, such as canals or seascapes which will naturally spread light around in different directions which is also helpful when trying to add interest to a photograph or painting.

Burning of the Houses of Parliament

Burning of the Houses of Parliament is a historic scene captured by William Turner who was clearly very interested in history as well as understanding the power which could be carried into art by using a well known moment in time as here. War has always been full of emotion and passion and this makes it an ideal topic for art and the political fighting found here serves as an equally useful tool for the artist to make use of.

We hope that you appreciate the fantastic paintings included throughout this website and that we have helped you in some way to understand more about the life and career of this incredible British artist who reputation thankfully remains very strong even today, thanks to the prominence of his work in key London galleries and museums as well as the media driven Turner Prize which was named after him.

Snow Storm

Snow Storm is a true example of romanticism with the artist's emotions clear to see within the painting, and the finished work looking very different to what the artist would have seen at the time. The full title of the painting was Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps and it can now be viewed in the Tate Gallery, London which holds a great number of his paintings in their permanent collection.

JMW Turner was a classic artist whose original oil paintings are very popular today in the form of reproduction copies for his many fans around Europe and North America. In most cases they will carefull choose the painting which best suits their home and often go for framed art prints, posters or stretched canvases as their preferred art media. In general, giclees are the best for accurately matching the colours used by Turner in his original British paintings.

List of Famous William Turner Paintings

There is an impressive array of paintings from the career of Turner and these are regularly exhibited around the UK and America with his oil paintings and watercolours both attracting high levels of interest from landscape art fans. Please see below for a comprehensive list of paintings from his career.

  • Warkworth Castle, Northumberland - Thunder Storm Approaching at Sun-Set
  • The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory
  • Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps
  • Eruption of Vesuvius
  • The Battle of Trafalgar
  • Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus
  • The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons
  • The Grand Canal, Venice
  • The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken up
  • Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On)
  • Glaucus and Scylla
  • Rockets and Blue Lights (Close at Hand) to Warn Steamboats of Shoal Water
  • Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway
  • Shrimpers, Lyme Regis