Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) is a key figure of the Romantic generation, a pioneer of landscape painting and one of Britain’s greatest artists. He was born at a time of immense change, experiencing the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution and the wars between Britain and France. His art often shocked his contemporaries but his vibrant colour, intense light and bravura application of paint are much admired today.
Turner was highly conscious of his reputation. He retained or re-acquired many of his paintings, intending to bequeath them to the British nation. The gift was originally limited to finished works exhibited in the artist’s lifetime but the final settlement of his will included the contents of his home and studio. The Turner Bequest is now housed in a purpose-built wing of Tate Britain in London. Turner from the Tate also includes some of the artist’s works in Australian collections.