Art Review: Turner Inspired – In the Light of Claude

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 73 months ago
Art Review: Turner Inspired – In the Light of Claude
Claude, Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, © The National Gallery, London.
Claude, Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, © The National Gallery, London.
painting
Turner, Joseph Mallord William (1775 - 1851, English)
Italy, Modern Italy (place depicted)
oil on canvas
unframed dimensions: 926 x 1232 mm; framed: 1370 x 1673 x 128 mm
  
Oil on Canvas 92.5 x 123 cm

Painting entitled 'Modern Italy - the Pifferari', by Joseph M W Turner


733
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Modern Italy - the Pifferari, © Glasgow Museums
Watercolour 67.6 x 102 cm
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Landscape: Composition of Tivoli, 1817. Private collection © Photo Robert Chapman Photography / courtesy of the owner
USB353590 
Credit: The father of Psyche sacrificing at the Temple of Apollo (oil on canvas) by Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellee) (1600-82)
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire, UK/ National Trust Photographic Library/John Hammond/ The Bridgeman Art Library
Nationality / copyright status: French / out of copyright 174 x 221 cm
PLEASE NOTE: The Bridgeman Art Library works with the owner of this image to clear permission. If you wish to reproduce this image, please inform us so we can clear permission for you.
Claude, Landscape with the Father of Psyche sacrificing at the Temple of Apollo, 1662. Anglesey Abbey, The Fairhaven Collection (The National Trust) © Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire/National Trust Photographic Library/John Hammond/The Bridgeman Art Library
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Dido building Carthage, or The Rise of the Carthaginian Empire, 1815. © The National Gallery, London.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Dido building Carthage, or The Rise of the Carthaginian Empire, 1815. © The National Gallery, London.

How do you follow up on the blockbuster that was the Da Vinci exhibition? The National Gallery is pinning its hope on arguably Britain's most famous painter — Turner — and how he was inspired by the works of Claude Lorrain (known as Claude).

Claude was a master of exquisitely detailed landscapes and their interplay with sunlight. He was also renowned for focussing on the natural setting of his paintings, with his cast of characters relegated to a sideshow in his works.

This exhibition charts how Claude's paintings influenced Turner. In his earlier works it almost seems as if Turner is merely copying Claude's style, yielding relatively lifeless imitations. But as Turner progressed as an artist, he developed the style that he remains famous for.

The crucial moment was when Turner decided to forgo detail to capture the impact of sunlight on the landscape. He manages to paint experiences — what it's like to stare directly at the sun and the impact this has on the viewer's vision, for example — long before Impressionism took on the same challenge. The similarities with Claude's work are still there, but the paintings diverge into two distinctive styles.

There is no doubt that both Claude and Turner were brilliant artists but the goal of this exhibition is to explore how the former influenced the latter. The National Gallery has done a fantastic job of conveying this journey.

Turner Inspired: In the light of Claude is on at the National Gallery until 5 June 2012. Tickets are £12 for adults, concessions available.

Last Updated 14 March 2012