At age fourteen, Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775–1851) decided to become an artist and began to study at the Royal Academy Schools, where early on he produced mostly drawings and watercolors. Known also for his oil paintings, he first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796; thereafter he exhibited nearly every year until the end of his life. Turner’s involvement at the Royal Academy continued throughout his career. He was elected an associate in 1799, a full member in 1802, and Professor of Perspective in 1811. In 1845, he was appointed acting president.
Turner traveled widely during his lifetime, making annual tours in England, Wales, and Scotland, sketching outdoors and discovering hidden depths and new dimensions in his subject matter, which was almost exclusively landscapes. In 1802, during a break in the Napoleonic War, he traveled to the Louvre in Paris and then to Switzerland, where the mountain scenery made a lasting impression on him. In later years he also visited Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. When he died in 1851, Turner left much of his artwork to the British nation. He was buried in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The watercolors reproduced in this book of thirty postcards were selected from the extensive collection of Turner’s paintings held by the Manchester Art Gallery.