Visit to the Exhibition of paintings by Turner
‘The sun is God’
at the National Gallery of Ireland
25 January 2023
We were privileged to have the actual curator of the Exhibition, Niamh McNally, as our tour guide. She was very knowledgeable, but wore her knowledge lightly – we even laughed now and again!. She brought us expertly through the themes of the Exhibition pointing out aspects of the paintings that we might not have noticed and that were a significant part of his artistic development.
Turner’s use of sketchbooks and notebooks was particularly interesting – he did not often paint ‘en plain air’; he usually made extensive sketches and notes during his travels especially in the summer and brought them all back to his studio where he could paint in comfort during the winter. He left over 300 sketchbooks and I think they are all in the Tate or else the National Gallery in London.
I had associated Turner mainly with seascapes – usually dramatic and tragic. But this Exhibition showed that he has number of different facets to his extensive work. We saw some canvases which were works in progress about the same subject at different stages. His use of the colour yellow was especially striking in many landscapes where he experimented with the effects of light. And he also appeared to like depicting scenes with violent weather – a thunderstorm, an avalanche and its aftermath.
I think my favourite Room was the fourth one with the very dark background showing paintings full of contrasts – very dramatic. Other Rooms had more tranquil representations, especially in paintings of Venice and paintings of Petworth Park and its lake where he spent a lot of his time while in England.
All in all a memorable and enriching experience.
Jean Whyte Hon Sec TRA