J.M.W. Turner
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

J.M.W. Turner

Mr. Turner

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About Him

Grew Up… as the humble son of a barber. Joseph Turner held on to his grimy London accent well into adulthood, even when perusing the halls of the posh and prestigious Royal Academy.

Living… at his house on Queen Anne Street, London, where he’s had a gallery installed for people to come and see his paintings. He lives with his loyal housekeeper – with whom he has a rather odd relationship – and his father, who prepares his canvases and paints.

Profession… the greatest artist of his generation. Turner, while a genius, is anything but a bohemian lout. He’s hardworking, practical, and businesslike. You’ll always be sure to find him “exceedingly occupied,” as he says, even when such occupation is to his own detriment.

Interests… nature. For all of his city-dwelling, Turner had the keenest emotional response to natural landscapes, especially of the sea. One can see it the way he paints such violent waves.

Relationship Status… estranged from his wife, with whom he has two daughters. Mr. Turner is not known for his kindness to women, especially to those who are devoted to him. The only woman he seems to show any respect for is his mistress down in Margate.

Challenge… bringing himself closer to the people in his life. Turner knows he’s a great painter, but his overwhelming dedication to art doesn’t leave much room for personal satisfaction. After the death of his father, he finds himself floundering in his human relationships.

Personality… disciplined, cantankerous, and moody. Mr. Turner is a sea of contradictions. One minute he can be charming, the next angry; kind, then competitive; tender, then cruel. The only place where he finds real solace is in his studio, making his paintings.

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