Artistic light

BMA: Visitors to new exhibit will get to know Turner by following his techniques and stylistic progression.

February 16, 2002

IT'S A GIVEN that admirers will flock to see J.M.W. Turner's works at the Baltimore Museum of Art. But, quite wonderfully, even novices can leave the new exhibit with a degree of expertise, thanks to explanations of the great British artist's watercolor techniques and favorite hues.

Turner (1775-1851) is hailed as the greatest of all British painters. He certainly was extremely prolific, producing some 20,000 works during his career. When he bequeathed the contents of his studio to the British nation, those alone totaled more than 100 finished oil paintings, 182 oil studies and more than 20,000 watercolors and sketches.

A representative sampling from London's Tate Gallery will be on view at the BMA Sunday through May 26. Only seven oils are included; the emphasis is on 78 watercolors and drawings and 18 prints - 25 of which have never been exhibited before.

"Reflections of Sea and Light" is an apt name for this cavalcade. Turner scoured the British and French coasts and Venice for inspiration. His fascination was with the use of light in every kind of weather. It is said he translated scenes into a light-filled expression of his own romantic feelings.

The Turner exhibit serves as a splendid introduction to BMA's collections of impressionist Masterworks, an exploration that can only be started in one day.

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