Jackie Wullschlager reviews the exhibition Turner and the Sea on view at the National Maritime Museum, London (through April 21 2014) and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts (May 31 - September 1, 2014).
Wullschlager writes: "Vortex-like compositions, suggesting history’s repetitions as doomed cycles of catastrophe and of man sucked to his fate recur in Turner. They are the violent side of the Victorian anxiety... Modern taste, however, since the mid-20th century, is for the Turner of pure sensation, effects of light, air, wind and colour, as abstractions. These mostly later works were largely unseen in the artist’s lifetime and for decades beyond... [Turner and the Sea] is a vibrant, engaging show encouraging us to perceive the myriad ways in which Turner was, as Ruskin wrote, 'the man who beyond doubt is the greatest of the age . . . at once the painter and poet of the day.' "