This work was a result of a series of journeys the artist did throughout Britain in the 1890’s. The Tintern Abbey was, at the time, one of the most visited tourist spots of the British lands. The sketch that would later be used as a model for the creation of this watercolor was made by Turner in 1892, during an excursion in the monastery.
On the bottom left corner, Turner placed two human figures which make the magnitude of the construction apparent. The gothic arches were the first architectural elements that allowed humankind to construct buildings that could reflect the grandiosity of God. This effect was not lost, and it remained in the ruins.
In the foreground, we can see an empty area of ground. On the bottom border, there are wild plants, which also appear over the ruins. It is as if nature were swallowing the remains of the construction.
The artist used the technique of aerial perspective on the ruins. This means he used hues of the sky palette onto the more distant elements of the construction. This technique is usually used on elements that are far away, like mountains in the distance. The result achieved by Turner is of reinforcement of the magnitude of this construction.
We can see in the way the artist constructed such architectonic how familiar he was with this type of renderings. As a young artist, he managed to pay for his studies in the Royal Academy of Arts working as a draftsman for architectural projects. He even considered focusing his artistic productions in these architectonic renderings, but he was advised by one of his mentors from the Academy as to focus on landscapes.
William Turner is considered by many as one of the greatest English painters of all times. He was part of the Romanticism which is an art movement in which the wonders of nature were celebrated in great, monumental renderings of landscapes and marines. However, his style had some elements that referred to the movement that would follow his: the Impressionism. He was one of the first to embrace the materiality of painting and created works that didn’t try to hide the two-dimensionality of the support.
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