The late eighteenth century through the first half of the nineteenth century witnessed vast transformations in Europe, as the notions of a voice for every citizen and the power of the common people became powerful stimuli for change. Although the move away from unchecked monarchical power was most obvious in France with its several revolutions, the undercurrent of upheaval was felt throughout Europe, including in England. Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in 1775 and died in 1851, his life spanning this era of ideological change. Although he was steeped in the academic tradition and a member of England?s Royal Academy from his early teen years, Turners works show an ambivalence and tension between his admiration and imitation of the old masters and his desires to break new ground and create a unique style all his own.
[...] “Turner usually allowed himself considerable freedom to change the particulars of a scene if in doing so he heightened the pictorial and poetic expression of his work.” The painting most likely does not capture the exact reality of the fire's appearance. For instance, the orange smoke that emanates from the flames in all likelihood was more of a gray or black smoke. But the use of that bright orange expands the reach of the flames to awe-inspiring heights; the fire seems to have tentacles of smoke and a life of its own; it reaches out for more to consume. [...]
[...] sea, and mist.” Kenneth Clark writes that after Turner's visit to Italy in 1819, does not attempt sham Claudes and Poussins, and his compositions give up all pretence of classical construction.” Jack Lindsay describes the “main effect of the two Italian visits” as most apparent in the water-colors of the period, in which, excitingly watch him in the demiurgic act of creating a cosmos of unified light-color-form out of the most simple possible materials, in a revolutionary leap of sensibility. [...]
[...] Turner acknowledged the error of that assumed objectivity and brought it to light by provoking the viewers to react and think about their role in interpretation of the painting and of the fire of October Bibliography Clark, Kenneth. Landscape into Art. London: J.Murray Hamilton, James. Turner's Britain. London: Merrell Hirsh, Diana. The World of Turner 1775-1851. New York: Time-Life Books Lindsay, Jack. J.M.W. Turner, His Life and Work. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society McCoubrey, John. “Parliament on Fire: Turner's Burnings.” Art in America (December 1984): 112-25 Paulson, Ronald. Literary Landscape: Turner and Constable. [...]
[...] Katherine Solender writes, the Times can serve as a barometer, the general mood was not so much sorrow over the ruined structures as it was grateful rejoicing for the preservation of Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey, buildings, ‘endeared to numerous generations of Englishmen as monuments of the antiquity and glory of their country.' Yet, while the Parliament buildings were also historic monuments, by 1834 many believed that Parliament's ‘career of glory' was past and that the walls had now ‘crumbled over the heads of men who are utterly incompetent and incapable of maintaining Turner was probably aware of the public response and its inherent duality. [...]
[...] Turner tried to mitigate this, for instance by including in the title of a painting from 1842, author was in this storm on the night the Ariel left Harwich,” but such attempts did not change the fact that an average observer would have felt detached from these scenes. Consequently, the Parliament fire provided a unique opportunity for Turner to reach his audience in a way he had never before. Burning of the Houses of Parliament provoked viewers to ask themselves not how it would feel to experience such an event, but how it did feel to experience it. [...]
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