An exhibition of oil and watercolour paintings by JMW Turner drawn from the collections of Tate.
The exhibition showcases Turner’s magnificent Venice: the Piazzetta with the Ceremony of the Doge Marrying the Sea (c1835), together with a suite of watercolours from his visit in 1840, the year in which Ruskin and Turner first met.
The paintings chart the passage of light across the hours of a single day. In Venice, Turner expressed the many elements of his artistic inspiration in the all-consuming energy of light. History, society, architecture, boats, sea and sky – all melt together in a timeless luminescence.
Turner’s Venice became Ruskin’s Venice and Turner became one of the great shaping forces of Ruskin’s life. Ruskin’s engagement with Turner began in 1836, when Blackwood’s Magazine ran an article ridiculing three recent pictures by Turner. ‘The review raised me to the height of “black anger” in which I have remained pretty nearly ever since ..’ By leaping to the defence of Turner’s reputation Ruskin established his own.
On Turner’s death in 1851, Ruskin was appointed one of his executors and set to work on the gargantuan task of cataloguing the 20,000 watercolours and drawings Turner bequeathed to the National Gallery. The bulk of Turner’s gift to the nation are today housed in the Clare Galleries of Tate Britain.