Turner's Classical Landscapes: Myth and Meaning

Overview

Now famous for their immediate impact of color, light, and atmospheric effect, the landscapes of Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) were at first the object of opposing critical claims: from one side the British artist was charged with painting "pictures of nothing and very like," from the other, with allowing too much "content" to eclipse his presentation of nature. Taking this paradox as its starting point, Kathleen Nicholson's richly illustrated book proposes a thorough revision of how we understand ...
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Overview

Now famous for their immediate impact of color, light, and atmospheric effect, the landscapes of Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) were at first the object of opposing critical claims: from one side the British artist was charged with painting "pictures of nothing and very like," from the other, with allowing too much "content" to eclipse his presentation of nature. Taking this paradox as its starting point, Kathleen Nicholson's richly illustrated book proposes a thorough revision of how we understand the enigmatic artist who revolutionized landscape painting. Advancing the growing interest in Turner's handling of content, without ignoring questions of style, Nicholson shows how Turner used the themes of antiquity to explore the ways natural imagery can embody meaning, and how he came to view interpretation itself as a primary subject.Nicholson maintains that by seeking themes in ancient myth, culture, and history, Turner was able to reinvest nature with new values and concepts, thereby accomplishing a genuinely modern revision of classical landscape in an early nineteenth-century idiom. His inquiry into the nature of meaning, she argues, led him to articulate a narrative that engaged the viewer in "reading" or interpreting both symbolic and purely visual imagery. Among the first to analyze systematically the themes treated in Turner's early sketchbooks, Nicholson traces the artist's understanding of a given legend, ancient author, or formal source as it developed over time, providing rare insight into the extent and character of his manipulation of subject matter.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
J.M.W. Turner's groundbreaking use of color and atmospheric effect generally receives the most attention from modern viewers and scholars, yet he was deeply affected by the grand traditions of historical landscape painting as exemplified by Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. Nicholson (art history, Univ. of Oregon) examines Turner's depictions of classical subjects from works by Homer, Apollonius Rhodius, and Ovid, delving into the painter's use--and misuse--of various artistic and literary sources. While many books have been written about Turner's prodigious oeuvre , this monograph is a skillful, scholarly investigation into an important aspect of his imagery. Highly recommended for academic and specialized art library collections.-- Paula A. Baxter, NYPL
Booknews
Nicholson (art history, U. of Oregon) shows how romantic painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) used the themes of antiquity to explore the ways natural imagery can embody meaning, and how he came to view interpretation itself as a primary subject. With 16 b&w and eight color plates, and 150 b&w figures. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691040806
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 8.79 (h) x 1.03 (d)

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