the first modernist


Even the earliest of Turner’s 146 oil works on display exhibits the remarkable fundamentals that he would build on and transform – substantially – over time. Fisherman at Sea, the first oil painting Turner showed at the Royal Academy (in 1796, following several years’ worth of watercolour works), features elements that would dominate his later studies on the sublime. The full, featureless moon would be repeated again and again across all the modes of his paintings. The wan orb – this time, the sun – hanging low among the rising range of mountains and swoosh of furious weather in Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps (1812) represents stability in the face of nature and permanence through tumultuous history. On the other hand, the sulfurous sun in Calais Sands, Low Water, Poissards Collecting Bait (1830) seems to vaporise the ocean where it touches down in a blistering sunset. The sun’s fierce fire is juxtaposed against the frail, ghost crab-coloured fishwives searching for grub in the low tide.

more from The Guardian here.