The Easel

A portrait of the artist: is it time we looked at Turner differently?

Two new biographies of Turner bring him into sharp focus, even if new revelations are scarce. As a younger man Turner felt guilty that “while [he] was being lauded by fellow academicians, his mother was chained to [an asylum wall] but his reputation came first”. Later life sounds similar -“a mischievous, mani­pulative and thoroughly modern painting machine, a man on the make and on the take, selfish, sexual”.