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.)