Joseph Turner, the greatest English romantic landscape painter, was born in Covent Garden, London, on the 23rd of April in 1775. He was the son of a fashionable barber. He started drawing and painting as a small boy. His father used to sell the boy’s drawings to his customers.
In such a way he earned money which his father paid for his lessons in art. At the age of 14 he entered the Royal Academy School. His water-colours were exhibited at the Royal Academy from the time he was fifteen. At 18 he set up his own studio. Turner worked at first in water colours, then in oils.
Between 1802 and 1809 Turner painted a series of sea-pieces, among them “Sun Rising in Mist”. The masterpieces of this period are “The Lake of Geneva”, “Frosty Morning”, “Crossing the Brook”, etc. In 1819 Turner got out on his first visit to Italy. During the journey he made about 1500 drawings and the next few inspired by what he had seen. Turner was the master of the air and wind, rain and sunshine, horizon, ships and sea.
He dissolved the forms of his landscape in the play of light and shade, he anticipated the work of French Impressionist paintings. During his life Turner painted hundreds of paintings and thousands of water-colours and drawings. On his death Turner’s own entire collection of paintings and drawings was willed to the nation and they are in the National and the Tate Galleries.