Book review: Turner: The Extraordinary Life And Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

FRANNY MOYLE starts her biography of Turner at his death. His living arrangements are scandalous and irregular — potentially reputation ruining. 

Franny Moyle

Viking, £25;

ebook, £5.49

Even worse, how will this affect the value of his work for his dealers and patrons? 

For an artist with a controversial career and mixed standing among critics, his fame had been hard won.

He had a troubled early childhood — the family blighted by his mother’s mental illness. 

His father was a wig maker in Covent Garden. Turner showed his artistic talent early, selling pictures in his father’s shop. 

Later in life, he found it hard to sell his paintings, even when offered large sums of money, as he didn’t want to part with them. 

He always had a sense of his own value as an artist — from setting high price tags to bequeathing his work to the nation. 

Critics found his later, more impressionistic work difficult. Moyle’s book contains a number of illustrations, but this isn’t a coffee table book to flick through and admire the pictures.


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