Self Portrait William Turner Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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

This painting is dated back to 1799 when William Turner was about 24 years old.

In the same year he was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy, seemingly the portrait might have been a way of marking this important event in his life. The painting itself is now in Tate Gallery, London, England.

Self Portrait is a whimsical self-image of J.M.W Turner. His eyes seem to cut deep, staring with an air of confidence and has a general look of secrecy, as if there's more to it than what shows.

His hair is blonde and slightly unkempt, giving him a rough edge. Down his neck is a white scarf carelessly wrapped around it and he has a silver waistcoat and a brown-ish coat, which somehow portrays him as a hero of war.

His cheeks are quite flustered and quite full, giving him a boyish yet manly look.

His facial features are not over defined, particularly his nose which he carefully minimised the enormous effect. Which is quite contrary to the work of George Dance. Dance painted a portrait of J.M.W Turner when Turner was just 17 years old.

In that particular portrait Turner's nose was savagely captured, in addition to that, he was featured with long hair and quite raggedly. This made him look like a radical French. He's radical in this particular self-portrait, except he looks like he's on a mission of some sort.

The dim background has an interesting effect on the scene. He looks like he's in space and no object is around him whatsoever, like a lonely star.

The objectless background forces all the focus on him, making him the sole source of attraction when you take a first look at it. The artwork theme seems to be his signature theme.

Similar portraits attributed to Turner are three of his other portraits, two of which are self-portraits. One he was significantly young, and the other he was 16 years old. The third portrait was a portrait of a young man previously mistaken to be his self-portrait sometime back.

One identical trait in almost all of his work is the way the art does not give much details but sort of incites you to imagine what could be there. This portrait lays a platform just exactly for that, for the way his work motivates one to look deep and interpret even deeper.