On this date in 1775, Joseph Turner was born in London. Joseph's education was limited to being taught to read by his father, a barber. A precocious artist, he was 15 when one of his paintings was exhibited at the Royal Academy, a great honor. He became a highly successful painter who traveled widely, and innovated his own light-filled technique. Joseph Turner's brilliant paintings--notably of seascapes or ambitious, romantic visions of nature--anticipated impressionism. When Turner died, he left all of his paintings to Great Britain and his fortune to found a place for what he called "decaying artists." According to Joseph McCabe's A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists, art critic Ruskin often referred to Turner as "an infidel." Biographer W. Thornbury dolorously noted that when Turner died, "he had no religious hope to cheer him" (Life of J.M.W. Turner, 1862, ii, 275). P.G. Hamerton, in Life of Turner, wrote that the painter "did not profess to be a member of any visible Church" (1879, p. 367). D. 1851.
“The truth seems to be that Turner had not a particle of religious belief, and rarely gave a thought to religion.”
—Joseph McCabe on Joseph Turner, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists (1920)
Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
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