The Turner Experience at the Tate Britain

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Several students traveled from Lacoste to London over a weekend in hopes to view Turner paintings.  The Tate Britain devoted an entire wing of the museum to the master artist. When walking down the corridor to the Turner collection, my eye meets his self-portrait that is on display at the end of the hallway. When I was standing in one of the ten galleries that housed his paintings, I knew that moment became sentimental because I was standing in a room filled with the masterworks of an artist who greatly influences my work. Anticipating the thought that I would see Sun Setting Over a Lake, I came across Death on a Pale Horse. In this painting, Death appears defeated lying across his horse in skeletal form, arms outstretched, and draped submissively over the horse’s back almost as if Death was a phantom. Interpretations with these imagery and the handling of the paint were considered to embody the very concept of the Sublime. Turner’s use of paint became progressively looser and less precise.  His peers considered many of his admired paintings “incomplete;” these paintings were only discovered after his death in his studio.

“What I liked about turner was how even in his exhibited pieces, you could always see a bit of foreshadowing of his later paintings.  Thick, spontaneous applications of paint and ambiguous areas of color in otherwise very detailed and dictated scenes.  That’s what I liked the most.”—Julie Miller

Also on display was many of his sketchbooks, studies, paints from his studio, and palettes.  On the second floor, had his beautiful prints and watercolor studies. There were also tutorials on Turner, where Ana and I finished our viewing with listening to the audio guide and taking notes on his oeuvre.

“The most important thing I learned about Turner was that he never left his house without his pencil and a small sketch pad.”—Ana Gardiner

By Kimberly Bates

Photo credits: Kimberly Bates

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