Turner Biography & Chronology

Biography

A brief illustrated biography is available on the Tate website.

The most recent books on Turner’s life are: Anthony Bailey, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner, 1997, paperback edition 2013, and James Hamilton, Turner: A Life, 1997, paperback edition 1998.

Young Mr Turner, the first part of the eagerly awaited new biography by Eric Shanes, is now published by Yale University Press in conjunction with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

Chronology

There are numerous published chronologies of Turner’s life and work, but many of these are out of date as a result of new research.

The most reliable of the published chronologies at present is that contained in the exhibition catalogue J.M.W. Turner edited by Ian Warrell, Tate Publishing, 2007.

A good online chronology can be found on the Tate website.

Turner Biography & Chronology
 

A Brief Turner Chronology

1775

Birth of Turner in Maiden Lane, possibly on 23 April.
Baptised at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, on 14 May.

1783

Death of younger sister, Mary Ann, aged 4.

1789

Starts attending classes at the Royal Academy Schools.

1790

Watercolour accepted by the Royal Academy for the first time: The Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth.

1793

Outbreak of war between Britain and France.

1796

Oil painting accepted by the Royal Academy for the first time: Fishermen at Sea.

1799

Elected an Associate member of the Royal Academy.
Moves from his father’s house in Covent Garden to Harley Street.

1800

Mother admitted to Bethlem Hospital.

1802

Elected a full member of the Royal Academy and presents Dolbadern Castle as his ‘Diploma picture’.
Makes the first of many visits to France and Switzerland.

1804

Death of Turner’s mother in Bethlem Hospital.
Turner opens a gallery in his own house to show his pictures

1807

Elected Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. Starts issuing his Liber Studiorum.

1809

Moves round the corner from Harley Street to Queen Anne Street West, retaining his gallery.

1812

Paints Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army crossing the Alps.

1815

Paints Dido building Carthage and Crossing the Brook.
Defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and return of peace to Europe.

1817

First of several visits to the Low Countries and Germany.

1819

First of several visits to Italy.

1820-1

Creates a new gallery at his house.

1828

Uses a studio in Rome and exhibits three paintings there.

1829

Paints Ulysses deriding Polyphemus.
Death of Turner’s father.

1834

Witnesses the burning of the Houses of Parliament.

1835

Makes a tour which includes Copenhagen, Berlin and Prague.

1836

Criticism of Turner’s art in the press arouses the anger of the 17-year-old John Ruskin.

1839

Paints The Fighting Temeraire.

1843

Ruskin begins publishing Modern Painters in Turner’s defence.

1844

Paints Rain, Steam, and Speed.

1845

Last trip abroad, to the north French coast.

1845-6

Serves as Acting President of the Royal Academy during the illness of the President.

1850

Exhibits for the last time at the Royal Academy.

1851

Death of Turner in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, on 19 December.
Buried in St Paul’s Cathedral on 30 December.