Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Say it With Color --- Day 4/159

Walk: JCC, Van Ness
Distance: 2.8 miles and yoga class

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Peace—Burial at Sea, exhibited 1842. Oil on canvas. Tate, accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856, N00528. Image © Tate, London 2015
JMW Turner, Peace: Burial at Sea, exhibited 1842.

Would you say the artist of this painting was expressing happiness or grief?  Trick question of course because the deep black sail and the the body of the ship disintegrating into particles and slowly merging with the air and sea speak perfectly of witnessing a sad passing.  In this case, that of Turner's friend, the artist, David Wilkie who died at sea.

Turner was under severe criticism when the painting was exhibited for straying from the facts (one being that the boat's sails were canvas, not black) and not 'finishing' the work.  It is a visual tone poem that completely captures the moment and is, of course, entirely finished. But not yet to 19th century eyes.  And, as for the facts, Turner's reaction was to proclaim in essence "If only there were a darker black I could have used!"

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