A definitive new biography, deftly interweaving an account of Turner’s early life with profound scholarly and aesthetic appreciation of his work
A complex figure, and divisive during his lifetime, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) has long been considered Britain’s greatest painter. An artist of phenomenal invention, complexity, and industry, Turner is now one of the world’s most popular painters. This comprehensive new account of his early life draws together recent scholarship, corrects errors in the existing literature, and presents a wealth of new findings. In doing so, it furnishes a more detailed understanding than ever before of the connections between Turner’s life and art.
Taking a strictly chronological approach, Eric Shanes addresses Turner’s intellectual complexity and depth, his technical virtuosity, his personal contradictions, and his intricate social and cultural relations. Shanes draws on decades of familiarity with his subject, as well as newly discovered source material, such as the artist’s principal bank records, which shed significant light on his patronage and sales. The result, written in a warm, engaging style, is a comprehensive and magnificently illustrated volume which will fundamentally shape the future of Turner studies.
About the author
Eric Shanes prepared a biography of J.M.W. Turner as Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre.