Life of William Turner by Simon Schama

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  • Topic: Slavery, J. M. W. Turner, Art
  • Pages : 1 (390 words )
  • Download(s) : 306
  • Published : November 29, 2011
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Simon Schama on Turner

In this paper, Simon Schama writes about the life of William Turner and how he was criticized for his work, which was actually some of the best of his time. In the 1840s, queen Vitoria open the 72nd exhibition of the royal academy. This show had over 900 pieces, and turner had a few pieces present at the show. Turner at the time was only 14 years old, and was showing his artistic talent at a really young age. Turners painting “slave ship” was noticed by the critics, but not in a very good way. They called it “ accident in the kitchen with pots of mustard and tomato sauce.” The believed that turner was not following the rules of art and the darkness of the painting was hard for the critics to appreciate. 
He painted an event that was almost 60 years old to bring up one of the worst episodes in British history. 132 African slaves were thrown overboard into the shark-infested water. Turner brings you in to the moment, showing terrifying ocean with a bloody light to it.
 All of the critics believed that the painting represented an all time low in Turner's art because disregard for the rules of art. Although the critics thought this, this was actually one of turners best piece. Although turner hated this criticism, he was determined to get this painting noticed because it represents the slave massacre. Slave ship was considered another lost piece of art history, because it was “exiled” into Massachusetts. Turner’s greatest work was then really hard for the British public to even see. Like Schama, I believe that Turners work brought up a very important topic that was just ignored at the time, and he was easily one of the best artists of the ages. In Turner’s old age, he was almost forgot for his art. No one liked his art except for one critic John Ruskin who late bought his slave ship painting. John knew the roughness behind the painting, and kept it alive. Ruskin was able to pass the painting down and eventually get it into a museum in...
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