|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
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Born in London, England, Joseph Turner, known commonly as J.M.W.
Turner, became one of the 19th centuries most famous painters in
England and Europe of landscapes, skyscapes and seascapes. He is
regarded as one of the promulgators of English watercolor landscape
painting, but he also painted in oil. Unique to him was a special
treatment of light, which conveyed atmosphere, mood, and romantic
Turner came from a working class family, supported by his father who
was a barber. His mother died when he was very young, and he did
not have much formal schooling although his father taught him to
read. His art talent was obvious, and by the age of 13 he was
making drawings at home and exhibiting them in his father's shop window
He received much attention and by the time he was 15 years old, one of
his paintings was exhibited at the Royal Academy---a very rare
honor. By the time he was 18 he was set up in his own studio, and
shortly after printers were seeking his work for reproduction.
He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and when he was age
27 in 1802, he became a full member. He then began
traveling widely in Europe, especially to Venice, which became the
inspiration for many paintings regarded as his finest.
With age, Turner became an eccentric. He lived with his father
for 30 years and had few friends and was highly reclusive when
painting. For months, he would disappear from sight outside his
home, and although he exhibited his work, he often refused to sell
it. If one did sell, he suffered depressions for days afterward.
His last exhibition was in 1850. A year later he disappeared from
his home and was found hiding in a house in Chelsea. He
died the following day, December 19, 1851.
Turner left much money designated to help what he described as
"decaying artists." His collection of paintings was left to the
country of England, and upon his request, he was buried in St. Paul's
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