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How Turner Painted

Materials & Techniques

Joyce H. Townsend


A detailed examination of Turner's painting techniques, offering both insight and inspiration for the contemporary practitioner

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This authoritative visual guide to the artistic materials and painting techniques of J. M. W. Turner brings to life the skills of one of the world’s greatest artists. Details of his watercolours and oil paintings, usually only available to small numbers of museum professionals, and an experienced artist’s recreation of his core painting processes, combine with in-depth research into Turner’s use of new materials to give unique insights into his creative processes.

How Turner Painted brings new research and understanding to the subject since the publication of the author’s earlier book Turner’s Painting Techniques (1993). Joyce Townsend, senior conservation scientist at Tate, which houses the majority of Turner’s work and is a centre of expertise on the artist, has revisited, updated and continued the examination of his innovative use of materials and early adoption of new colours. Comparisons are drawn across oil painting and watercolour to illustrate how Turner built up an image, and what his numerous unfinished works can tell us about his working methods. With a foreword by art historian Nicola Moorby and a chapter contributed by artist Tony Smibert, the book will coincide with two major new exhibitions planned for 2020, at Tate Britain and at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Tasmania.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 22.0 x 19.0 cm

Extent: 168 pp

Illustrations: 200

Publication date: 19 September 2019

ISBN: 9780500294833

About the Author

Joyce H. Townsend is senior conservation scientist at Tate. She is the author of numerous books, including Turner’s Painting Techniques and, with Tony Smibert, The Tate Watercolour Manual: Lessons from the Great Masters.

List of Contributors

Nicola Moorby, Tony Smibert