JMW Turner Research notes

Notes on Turner in Venice

Turner and Venice, 2003, Ian Warrel

“the vaporous masterpieces he produced then have been said to represent the sawn of Impressionism. For me they suggest Debussy in paint, and it is Debussy’s languorous, limpid cadences that come into my head still when I remember my own original stay in Venice”

I love this reference as music is a part of the way I consider my own works. A comment made to me about my work relating to Eric Satie has stayed with me for years and is one of the best and most interesting compliments I think I’ve ever received.

Ian Warrel asserts that although Turner only spent a total of 4 weeks in 20 years in Venice, his venetian paintings account for a large amount of his work. The Venice paintings are often talked about in relation to their focus on the sea and the effects of light on water – however these are also present in many of his works painted in Britain. It was water and the sea in general rather than Venice that was his main focus/love.

“Venice is a city suspended in time” – this notion it is suggested comes from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1818). It’s an interesting one this… does that quality come through in the work? I took some video footage in Venice with sound – must get it onto computer and use for a work… bells in the morning, not sure how I will use it, but perhaps the music element can be brought in somehow.

Turner often painted couplings – morning and evening of the same view, or two cities, hot and cold colourings… often series focusing on these opposites. Would it be useful for me to make a series like this? I do in many ways in the studio already, work in colour complemetaries…

P 25 “sense of a dematerialised reality, combined with a physical sense of the air between objects that is probably the most radical quality of the watercolours, though this too is common to much of his late work”

“this depicts Turner’s fundamental engagement with colour rather than form”

turner is said to have remarked to Ruskin “atmosphere is my style”

p 28 “ though movement is so often the ostensible subject of these pictures… there is surprisingly little evidence of discernable motion” it is suggested that this is due to the sense of Venice being suspended in time..

p66 In the late work the connections between the colour beginnings and the finished canvases is narrowed – works are layers of colour glaze and have little form