Thursday, February 16, 2006

The art of JMW Turner...

I admit it. I'm a frustrated wannabe artist. Since I can only sketch or paint haphazardly, I sigh over anyone who can create beautiful art.

I found two versions of this painting and, with the rowboat, it seems as if there WERE two versions with the same name. In this top one, the sky is far more pronounced.

The following article in the online Washington Post caught my eyes this morning:

Turner watercolour set to break saleroom record
Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:33 AM GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - An 1842 watercolour by JMW Turner could well set a saleroom record when it goes under the hammer in June, auctioneers Christie's said on Wednesday.

The Blue Rigi: Lake of Lucerne is expected to fetch more than two million pounds, putting it on target to beat the current record for a Turner watercolour on paper of 2.04 million pounds set in 2001 by Heidelberg with a Rainbow.

It is also within striking distance of the world record for a British work of art on paper of 2.6 million pounds set in 2000 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Pandora.

Christie's said it is the most important watercolour to appear at auction for more than half a century.

Blue Rigi was one of four works Turner produced in 1842 after a visit to Switzerland.
Influential 19th century art critic John Ruskin said they were the best watercolours the artist ever painted.

The work, which shows Rigi Mountain rising out of the mists of Lake Lucerne, changed hands twice -- in 1863 and 1912 -- before ending up in 1942 in the family of the current owner. It will be the leading item at Christie's British Art Week sales between June 5 and June 9.

Click HERE to read more about Turner's technique, artwork and history.

From another link on his work...

Because of all artists he was the most sensitive to subtle inflections in the intensities and the gradations of colour, no reproduction, however accurate, can quite do justice to his vision. The reader must therefore be prepared, in looking at this impression of the Rigi at sunset with the lake of Lucerne at its base, to reinforce Turner's vision with his own.

The watercolour is one of a series made by Turner during a visit to Switzerland in 1841. The scene is hardly sensational in its own right, but Turner must have felt impelled, as the sun sank behind the mountains, giving way to deepening twilight and, afterwards, to a moonlit night, to record with the utmost accuracy each passing phase of the changing light.

Yet accuracy is hardly the quality that we most aware of in the presence of Turner's best water-colours. They may be based on acute observation yet they achieve a lyrical quality that one does not associate with realism. In this example the last rays of the sun have spread a rose-colored veil across the upper slopes of the mountain. At its foot, level lines of blue mist spread themselves across the calmness of the lake, and the wooded slopes that come down to its edge are almost lost in the deepening twilight. The sharp accents of three boats break the surface of the water and one of them in the distance emits a trail of smoke that drifts upward into the mist. In the far distance one feels rather than sees the ranges of the high Alps.

From a purely technical point of view, the gradations in the luminous sky from blue to the palest pink are the work of a virtuoso, as anyone who has attempted such effects in watercolours will known. Yet just as Turner makes one forget his realism, so also does he conceal his virtuosity. It is as though he were identifying with the sunset rather than describing it.


Michael Parker said...

THis is a beautiful painting!

Pris said...

Isn't it lovely??

Geoff Sanderson said...

Turner was way ahead of his time - he was painting 'Impressionist' art several decades before the French 'invented' the genre, and is arguably the best watercolourist the world has ever seen. Incidentally, isn't it awful how the press seem to appraise the value of art by how many millions it fetches at auction?
Thanks for posting this,P.

Pris said...

I love his work, too. It reminds me of Jill's approach to landscapes. And yes, money is everything, isn't it? That's why I included the link to his work. He's fascinating.

Michelle e o said...

How beautiful. I envy artists who work with watercolor, it's very challenging, you have to think totally different. The paper is your white.

Pris said...

Yes, it's like the difference between shooting with black and white vs have to 'see' light completely differently. I've painted in watercolor before and found it extremely difficult compared to say tempera or oils. For one thing, you paint it, it's very hard to correct, unlike the other two where you can paint over.

mouse said...

Turner is one of my favourite artist! Thanks for the post.

Pris said...

You're welcome. His work is indeed beautiful!