Turner’s Painting Materials and Techniques

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Lecture by Dr Joyce Townsend

In his early life Turner worked in watercolour before he used oil, employing a whole repertoire of techniques to create lights in his compositions. This experience greatly influenced his methods when painting in oil. All his life he exploited newly invented pigments and innovative ways of marketing his works and his output was prodigious. This talk illustrates the considerable range of painting materials he used and how he used them, from his early watercolours to his well-known habit in later life of finishing his oils on the walls of the Royal Academy just before the annual exhibition.

Dr Joyce Townsend is Senior Conservation Scientist, Tate, where she investigates the materials and techniques used by British artists from the later sixteenth to the twentieth centuries and the ways such paintings have changed as they age. She is the author of How Turner Painted: Materials and Techniques (2019) and many other publications on Turner and other British artists.

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