Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

19. Turner

The Fighting Temeraire, 1839 (oil on canvas)

‘Light is therefore colour,’ said the English painter J. M. W. Turner. The master of colour and light, who could combine the abstract technique of sug- gesting weather and atmosphere with technical mastery of detail—for instance, of the ship’s rigging in this 1838 painting of The Fighting Temeraire being tugged to her last berth—Turner was more than just a topographer; his poetic vision imbued his paintings with emotional depth. In his handling of paint, he anticipated Impressionism. He was said once to have tied himself to a ship’s mast in a storm in order to be able to convey the experience to canvas.

‘I don’t paint so that people will understand me, I paint to show what a particular scene was like’ (J.M.W. Turner)

Next page Previous page