Art Quote: What Made Turner Stand Out?

Self-Portrait c.1799 by  Joseph Mallord William Turner. In Tate Britain.
Self-Portrait c.1799 by
Joseph Mallord William Turner. In Tate Britain.

“What made Turner’s first seascapes stand out on the [Royal] Academy’s crowded walls? … Rather than competing with the works of other artists for size and eye-catching effects (a tactic for which Turner later became renowned), these temporal coastal scenes demanded a close kind of viewing. With an understated drama and subtle variation in light and colour, they [offered] a respite from the visual cacophony around them…”

— Richard Johns, “Charted Waters” in Turner and the Sea, page 25