Waves Breaking on a Shore, c1835, JMW Turner

Waves Breaking on a Shore c.1835 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Waves Breaking on a Shore c.1835 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05495

This is the second painting I managed to elbow my way in front of at this very crowded exhibition. I look at this and I just wonder how he does it. The only discernible things in this painting are a horizon line and a boat. The boat has been added with three brush strokes of watery paint. That’s it. And yet we can read so much more in to the scene. We are on a sandy beach, there’s a wooden jetty to the left. The sea is rough and crashing foamily on the shore. It’s no storm, but there are heavy dark rain clouds passing over, and the sun pours down in through the narrow windows the clouds leave every now and then.

The paint to the right is thick and layered for the sea foam, yet where a weak sun meets the masts of the boat it is barely applied – the canvas is visible. It gives the impression that Turner was really active as he painted: the sun was weak – his stroke was weak, the waves were strong, thick, foamy and relentless – he applied paint in the same way.

There is no perspective to speak of, but we know that raincloud stretches across a massive sky and is on the move.

As I discover more artists through this course, the more ahead of his time Turner seems to have been.



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