Turner at the Tate

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Huntley Dent writes about the newly hung Turner Galleries at Tate Britain which house selections from the bequest of painter J.M.W. Turner, who left his estate, which included 30,000 works of art on paper and 300 oil paintings, to the country in 1856.

Dent writes: "The newly hung galleries can’t help but open your eyes. Turner left hundreds of unfinished paintings to the Tate and thousands of drawings and water colors, so any angle a curator wants to take can be illustrated, and still the torrent of imagination has only been caught in a teacup. At 21 and 22 Turner made his first Royal Academy pictures, both depictions of moonlight, a notoriously difficult illumination to capture on canvas. You have to lean in to squint at the astonishing detail that he has carefully inscribed in subtle shades of black and brown, a really virtuoso effect. But then, with Turner as with Paganini, one expects the virtuosic as his stock in trade. Quite literally he might do an avalanche before lunch and a cataclysm after tea while sketching in the defeat of Hannibal on the side."

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