I am the great lion of the day


If the spirit of Joseph Mallord William Turner is looking down on New York these days — possibly from somewhere in the vicinity of the sun, which in his dying days he declared to be God — he must have very mixed feelings. He would be satisfied to see that the show of the season is the Metropolitan Museum’s giant exhibition of his work — satisfied, but not surprised.

During his immensely productive lifetime (1775-1851), Turner was confident that he would be remembered as one of the greatest painters who ever lived: “I am the real lion. I am the great lion of the day,” he was known to boast when in his cups. The artist who left his work to the English people, but only “provided that a room or rooms are added to the present National Gallery to be called when erected ‘Turner’s Gallery,'” would find the Met’s 140-picture show no more than his due.

What would not please Turner is the surprisingly unfriendly reaction of the New York press to the show.

more from the NY Sun here.