Late Turner: Painting Set Free
10 Sep 2014 – 25 Jan 2015
Beginning in 1835, the year the artist turned 60, this exhibition celebrates the brilliance of his late career.
Video: art historian Jacky Klein introduces the exhibition, plus the Constable show at the V&A.
Over summer, a revelatory show at Tate Modern proved that the series of cut-outs Matisse produced in the final years of his life were some of his most glorious and triumphant works. Now its sister venue, Tate Britain, is set do the same for 'painter of the light', JMW Turner.
Dismissing notions of a diminishing, elderly artist, the display brings together 150 works that reveal Turner's radical experimentation with technique, process and material during this time. While his contemporaries were exploring other priorities, he continued to champion the idea that art should reflect some kind of moral truth, rather than just a visual one.
Far from falling foul of pessimism in his old age, Turner was visibly excited about the social, technological and scientific developments of modern life; demonstrated through works such as Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway.
Remarkably, during his final period Turner also continued to widen his exposure in the marketplace. Producing a range of work during these years – from pictures of the whaling industry, to watercolours such as The Blue Rigi, Sunrise – he constantly sought to appeal to new admirers.
Throughout his later years the artist continued to tour Europe, taking his last trip in 1845. He exhibited his last four pictures at the Royal Academy in 1850 and died in 1851.
As well representing the most iconic pieces of Turner's late career, the exhibition features artefacts that belonged to the artist in his senior years. For example, the glasses that aided his failing eyesight and an oil palette which – still encrusted with paint – was found in his studio after his death.