Turner, Joseph Mallord William

Turner, Joseph Mallord William, great English landscape painter, born probably in London, the son of a hairdresser; had little education, and grew up illiterate, as he remained all his days; took to art from his earliest boyhood; soon became acquainted with the artist class, and came under the notice of Sir Joshua Reynolds; began to exhibit at 15; was elected Associate of the Royal Academy at 24, and made an Academician at 28; he took interest in nothing but art, and led the life of a recluse; was never married, and was wedded solely to his work; travelled much in England and on the Continent, sketching all day long; produced in water-colour and oil scene after scene, and object after object, as they impressed him, and represented them as he saw them; being a man of moderate desires he lived economically, and he died rich, leaving his means to found an asylum for distressed artists; of his works there is no space to take note here; yet these are all we know of the man, and they stamp him as a son of genius, who saw visions and dreamed dreams; he early fascinated the young Ruskin; Ruskin's literary career began with the publication of volume after volume in his praise, and in his enthusiasm he characterised him as the “greatest painter of all time” (1775-1851). See Perugino.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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