This astonishing sunset oil painting Fort Vimieux by the Romantic artist Willian Turner was made in 1831. The depiction is of a wrecked sail ship, and it was painted in the style for which Turner is most remembered which resembles the one of the Impressionist‘s, the art movement that would follow Romanticism. The subject depicted here refers to the Napoleonic Wars and the English participation in it.
The color palette is of shades of brown, yellow and blue. The sun itself is the only element which Turner depicted using an almost pure orange, which gives it an incandescent aspect. It looks compelling. In contrast, the sky does not present the pink, and orange hues that one would expect to see at sunset. It has shades of a yellowish brown, and closer to the left and right borders of the canvas, traces of blue.
In the foreground, we can see the anchor which is being dragged by the tilted boat. On the right side of the painting, darker elements can be seen which cannot be distinguished. They might be another wrecking, the shore or even clouds. This is due to the extremely loose brushstrokes and the way Turner chose the color palette, which does not seem to resemble the one observed in the actual landscape.
Joseph Mallord Willian Turner was born in 1775 in London. He came from a simple family and always showed interest in the arts. After his mother was hospitalized, he went to live with his uncle, at the age of 10. His works of art developed during this time were exhibited at his father’s barbershop.
At the age of 14 years old, he got in the Royal Academy of Art, accepted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. His earnings as am architectural draftsman allowed him to continue his studies in the Academy. As this activity was the first type of professional artistic work, Turner considered focusing on architectural paintings with a lot of perspective structures. However, he opted for marine landscapes, which he did with mastery as it was one of his passions. The results were some of his masterpieces. Such as the Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth painted in 1842, and The Slave Ship from 1840. Both these canvases had the nautical theme but also presented the annunciation of the Impressionist style.
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