Turner’s Van Tromp

The thing to keep in mind with Turner is that his experimentation with materials was continuous, which means there’s no way of speaking in other than general terms when it come to his “technique”. Some of his paintings fit the drastic description Ruskin gave of them (can’t find it now, but will affix it later). Others were in remarkably good condition.

Heres a quote from Townshend regarding the shadows:

Shadows in the landscapes of finished paintings are always deeper and more transparent than in sketches. Throughout the nineteenth century, artists used transparent brown organic materials such as bitumen, asphaltum and van dyck brown for transparent shadows, appying these materials as glazes, combined with oil or resinous medium. Resinous medium used instead of oil gives an especially glossy, saturated appearance to the underlying oil paint because its refractive index is high. Wax added to these areas gives a matte, slightly milky appearance very appropriate to the green water in Van Tromp Returning After the Battle of Dogger Bank,  for example which is colored optically for superposed glazes, quite localized in extent, and very thin, with crisp impasto on top for the foam. It is a very noticeable in Turner’s technique that the same pigments used for glazes which form water, reflections, wet shores, etc. The unfortunate consequence is, that these distinct areas grow more alike as the medium yellows and darkens with age. The glazes are more numerous and varied in opacity and pigment loading where they form reflections on the water.

Below is the Turner she references where, of course, you can see next to nothing. The painting is in the Getty. It happens that I took a couple detail shots of exactly what she’s referencing.

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One Response to Turner’s Van Tromp

  1. johnk823 says:

    Try this out for experimentation.
    As to The Snow Storm- Steam Boat off a Harbor’s Mouth, we need to recognize one thing, Turner was tied to the mast of a ship, because he wanted to experience the storm. And he stated;

    “I did not paint it to be understood, but I wished to show what such a scene was like; I got the sailors to lash me to the mast to observe it; I was lashed for four hours, and I did not expect to escape, but I felt bound to record it if I did” J,M,W. Turner

    Now, this painting is his experience of that event and although one can not record motion in a painting he did his best to try and convey to the viewer what the experience and the motion was to him. He also conveyed the experience of the light, reflections, snow, rain, water walls building up, spray of the water of the waves, the wind, sky breaking throught at some point, the ship being tossed about, the smoke from the ships smoke stack in front of them and mingling of the smoke with all else going on, the various movements of the waves, even his own movement being tied to a mast of a different ship.

    The entire experience captured on canvas of a moment in time, as seen through his own minds eye. He used color, light and shadow to represent the moment and the brush strokes and palette knife strokes are all representative of the effects he had experienced. He suppressed colorization where campared to massive light and dark structre took over contrasting areas, as is seen half way up on the right side near the center.

    The main focal point from where he was tied to the mast of the ship he was on would have been the mast of the other ship ahead with its bending in the wind and the flag at the top, flapping in the heavy breeze of the storm.

    There is some faint soft almost muddy blue in the center mostlikely depicting a small break through of an off in the distant sky. The off yellow in the center of the painting, which is quite small, shows the flames coming out of the chimney stack of the forward ship and the blacks and browns of the smoke rising up and twisting in to the air from left to right.

    It was as if he were caught up in a tunnel effect of the sea rising on each side of him with all the snow coming down, water mists, rain, reflections and motions going on throughout the entire four hour journey. Painted like a picture from a camera, but his camera was his minds eye.

    Turner, seemed to always capture the moment and then would finalize it on those special varnishing days and bring those moments to life. It was those days that seemed to bring him the most criticism which animated the young Ruskin to defend Turner. So, the brushwork style itself played a major role in Turners contributory factor in the impact of the final painting he was working on.

    Blessings, John

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