Venice The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore; Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington

"Turner and the Sea” is a major exhibition with many strengths. It is comprehensive, displaying a good selection of Turner’s sea paintings. It ranges from his very earliest portrayals of calm and storm, to his battle scenes, to his water colors and mezzotints, and even his notebooks and unfinished or preliminary works. It culminates with his glorious mastery of the light of the sun, Turner’s god, in the 1830s and terminates with his final, controversial, almost abstract attempts to capture the essential feel of a stormy sea. The exhibition has a strong double historical awareness. It places...


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