I wanted to look at some of the contemporary watercolorists to give an idea of where landscape painting was at the time that Turner began to change it radically, how he moved away from this precise way of working, disconcerting a good number of his early collectors. What he did initially was to begin working more loosely, as well as begin leaving out bits of information so that the viewer was forced to fill in with his own imagination what wasn’t there.
This was an early hint of how he was to radically shift painting in his time. If we follow the trajectory of his entire career he becomes more and more fascinated with the effect of light disintegrating form, and his work eventually approaches complete abstraction. The abstract sublime, as it’s sometimes referred to. He used Lorraine to launch himself toward this way of seeing, understanding the illusion of deep atmospheric space that Claude achieved. As one writer said (can’t recall at the moment), “Sunlight viewed through a haze” could have been the title of half of his paintings.
We can get to looking at specific paintings later.
I’m trying not to run ahead too fast.
Here are some of the watercolorists of the generation mentioned on the handprint site, brilliant watercolorists all:
John Sell Cotman: