The first major American retrospective of the work of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) opened early in July at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will run through the summer season. This is a big show in several respects - in volume of material (150 works), in the oversize format of the paintings, and in the larger-than-life reputation of Turner as a gifted, prolific and innovative artist.
J.M.W. Turner was the son of a barber and wigmaker and grew up in the Covent Garden area of London. His prodigious talent was recognized at a very early age and he was admitted to the Royal Academy at 14 where his work was selected for exhibition the following year. Turner became known for his landscapes done in the style of the "sublime" aesthetic that featured images of nature in its wild, savage state. His early watercolors and oils of remote castles in North Wales, of marine scenes on stormy seas, of alpine treks through treacherous snowstorms and of epic historical events, all evoke the grandeur and the tumult of the moment.