colour · Turner · Uncategorized

“Now I have it!”

Norham Castle, Sunrise c.1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851
Norham Castle, Sunrise c.1845 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

“Now I have it!” these are the words reputed to have been said by Turner after three days contemplating a view that he was to use as subject matter of one of his painting. After eight weeks of studying his work am I any closer to grasping the measure of this man.?Standing in front of his late painting of Norham castle I was unable to ravel as to where might have been his starting point for this painting which he painted on numerous occasions. To help me with my understanding I studied one of his paintings with a view of Windsor castle.


My sketch of the scene of Windsor castle painted forty years before Norham castle. In this work it was easier to discern how Turner would have approached this work and this was the also the case of his earlier seascapes.


But the mystery of Norham castle still evaded me, this is where the Prints and drawings room came to my aid. It was in his sketch books and additional watercolours ( stored in that space) seen in such intimate details that one can come to understand the ‘mind-set’ of Turner.


These are three sketches I made from the last set of watercolours we saw. They may not look much but they are at the heart of Turner’s art, colour seen through a prism of light.



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