Joseph Mallord William Turner was perhaps the most prolific and innovative of all British artists to take inspiration from the landscape. He was a brilliant watercolourist and exceled at oil painting, and he also made a number of works which were intended to be reproduced as prints. Turner’s output was prolific. He was drawn as much to scenes of modern life, for example he painted steam boats and feats of modern engineering, as he was to the work of the Old Masters who excelled at landscape, particularly Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorraine.
Turner’s approach to the rendering of landscape was fresh an original. He repeatedly sought out scenes of awesome topography such as vast and imposing mountain ranges, and his approach to the weather was similarly dramatic. He was drawn to examples of striking and often extreme natural feats: storms, tumultuous seas, lightening, rainbows, and the breaking dawn all feature prominently in his work. His subject matter was not limited to landscape, but also incorporated contemporary, historical, literary, religious and mythological themes.
Here, we explore the pictures by Turner in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland, including how a large number of them were bequeathed to the galleries by the generosity of Henry Vaughan in 1900.