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The Sea Paintings of J.M.W. Turner Barry Venning Tuesday 07 July 2020

The lecture will be delivered online at 2.30pm using 'Zoom'.

The great critic, John Ruskin, believed that Turner’s later marine paintings included ‘the noblest seas ever painted by man’ and over the years few have seriously contested his judgement. One third of Turner’s oil paintings are of marine or seafaring subjects, and this lecture surveys the full range of his work in this genre. They include sea battles, fishing scenes, wreck pictures, the slave trade, mythological subjects and, above all, the sea itself in all its moods. It shows how Turner took a lowly and little regarded category of painting and used it to produce some of the most compelling images of the Romantic movement.


Barry Venning is an historian of British art with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely, including the volume on Turner in Phaidon's Art & Ideas series, and several catalogue essays for exhibitions in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland. He was the BBC's script consultant on Turner's Fighting Temeraire and has recently taken part (2013) in a BBC documentary called The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution. He has also published a study of John Constable's paintings. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British art.