J.M.W.Turner

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Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

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August 27, 2019; St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. Long-time followers know that many of my influences as a photographer are painters and chief among them is the English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner. Yesterday was his birthday, which was most beautifully and thoroughly celebrated in yesterday’s blog post by Marina Kanavaki.

Take a look. It’s worth the visit.

More than a year ago I posted a story about basking in Turners at the Tate Britain Museum in London in the summer of 2011. My Muse is also a Turner fan so when we were in London again last summer it was a no-brainer for us to go to the Tate and again surrounded ourselves with Turners. That afternoon was as nourishing to us spiritually as the dinner that evening was nourishing physically.

A few days later we toured St. Paul’s Cathedral. One of the most fascinating parts of the tour was a visit to the crypt, which is, fittingly, below ground level. More than two hundred notables are buried there, including the Duke of Wellington, Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, Arthur Sullivan, William Blake, Laurence of Arabia, and of course, Christopher Wren, who designed the cathedral.

As we were listening to the docent describe Wren’s tomb, it occurred to me that Turner must be buried somewhere in the crypt and I considered detaching myself from the group to look for his grave. Just at that moment someone nearly stepped on my foot, and as I reflexively looked down, I discovered that I’d been standing on Turner’s grave for several minutes.

I hasten to add that I consider it disrespectful to stand on a grave, but it is impossible not to in the crypt because they are all so close together. Still, I stepped off of it and stared silently at the stone as every Turner painting I had ever seen flashed through my mind.

When the crowd cleared, I documented the moment.

A belated happy birthday to you, William, wherever you are. And I’m sorry about standing on your grave.

(Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.

19 Comments

  1. Desecrations do occur, but I don’t find standing on a grave per se to be disrespectful.
    I wonder whether Britons are more aware of Turner’s birthday than we generally are here in the United States.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was actually thinking of you, when I was doing his tribute! Thank you so much for the mention – it is truly an honor coming from you! Beautiful memories and thank you for linking your Turner story, which I hadn’t seen before. I think Turner would be very happy to see you sitting there – enjoying… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much. Have you seen the movie “Mr. Turner”? Apparently quite accurate. He could be a bit of a grump. I don’t care. He created worlds. Universes. Taught me quite a bit about how to see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No I haven’t seen it. Oh, who cares… with the exception of artists who intentionally do harm for their ‘art’, I rarely focus on an artists’ life. Also… no one can actually see an artists’ mind to know what’s really going on in there! 😉 As you say… he created Universes and we’re fortunate to enter them! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      • We are indeed fortunate. If you ever feel like it, the movie is good. I just said to my wife that we ought to take another look at it. It was extremely well researched and hews closely to Turner’s own writings and contemporary accounts of his life, activities, and statements.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I didn’t know it was Turner’s birthday, but I am of course a huge fan, and I have Mr Turner on DVD and have watched it many times, I find it distinctly inspirational, and motivational too. And Turner himself – complex, at very least.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It was great – I’ve never seen so many Turners at once. I liked the alteration between sketchy, abstract images, and more realistic ones – it seemed to reveal something about his thought process. Though the abstract images might resonate more with me, the realistic paintings provide a context that somehow fleshes them out. Instead of forest-bathing, we should go Turner-bathing. 😉 (Well, OK, not instead of, in addition to).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you liked it. It’s his later works that really call to me. But, they are indeed a product of an extension of his earlier works. And definitely in addition to.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t say I’m supprised that you are a Turnerian fan, seeing your photos. I studied Turner for my MA dissertation, but I doubt it shows in my photography.

    Liked by 1 person

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