12.20.2007

JWM Turner 1775-1851


For Turner the reality of emotion is united with the reality of color. His innovations in style and technique combined with the emotive and esthetic strength in pure color became, to him, the ultimate element in painting. Discarding shape and form to mere outline and by using color fluidly, he pushed oil painting to the point at which the subject is almost seen through the paint itself.

This particular painting "Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhon coming on" was painted by Turner in 1840 specifically for an anti-slavery campaign . The painting is based on an incident that occurred in 1783 in which the captain of a slave ship tossed sick and dying slaves overboard in hopes of collecting insurance money on the claim that they were "lost at sea." The painting not only depicts the slaves being eaten by sea monsters and drowning while still in shackles, but also foretells the fate of those on board responsible for the horrors. The ship is headed into a massive storm with sales already in tatters and which will ultimately be destroyed thus punishment to those deserving.

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