It is difficult now to imagine that Turner’s landscapes were savaged by critics at the 1836 summer exhibition at the Royal Academy.
Was he a Master or a madman?
Turner’s intense chromatic freedom and atmospheric uncertainties were difficult to digest. “Indistinctness is my forte” he explained to a bewildered public.
If his paintings drew strong reactions it was because they were ground breaking, emotional, experimental. They had a powerful impact on artists for years to come, influencing the Impressionists among others.
Ruskin presented him as a Romantic hero, master of the moods of nature, and today many consider him to be Britain’s best painter.
You can make your own mind up when we look at his best known works, with a focus on his later paintings.