Turner by James Hamilton

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews



J.M.W. Turner was a painter whose treatment of light put him squarely in the pantheon of the world’s preeminent artists, but his character was a tangle of fascinating contradictions. While he could be coarse and rude, manipulative, ill-mannered, and inarticulate, he was also generous, questioning, and humane, and he displayed through his work a hitherto unrecognized optimism about the course of human progress. With two illegitimate daughters and several mistresses whom Turner made a career of not including in his public life, the painter was also known for his entrepreneurial cunning, demanding and receiving the highest prices for his work.

Over the course of sixty years, Turner traveled thousands of miles to seek out the landscapes of England and Europe. He was drawn overwhelmingly to coasts, to the electrifying rub of the land with the sea, and he regularly observed their union from the cliff, the beach, the pier, or from a small boat. Fueled by his prodigious talent, Turner revealed to himself and others the personality of the British and European landscapes and the moods of the surrounding seas. He kept no diary, but his many sketchbooks are intensely autobiographical, giving clues to his techniques, his itineraries, his income and expenditures, and his struggle to master the theories of perspective.

In Turner, James Hamilton takes advantage of new material discovered since the 1975 bicentennial celebration of the artist’s birth, paying particular attention to the diary of sketches with which Turner narrated his life. Hamilton’s textured portrait is fully complemented by a sixteen-page illustrations insert, including many color reproductions of Turner’s most famous landscape paintings. Seamlessly blending vibrant biography with astute art criticism, Hamilton writes with energy, style, and erudition to address the contradictions of this great artist.

From the Hardcover edition.

About James Hamilton

See more books from this Author
James Hamilton graduated from the University of Toronto Medical School in 1957 and was engaged in family practice before completing a psychiatric residency in Michigan in 1964. He obtained board-certification in 1968 and was a full-time member of the Departments of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati, Yale and the Medical College of Wisconsin before coming to New Mexico in 1988 to run a private psychotherapy practice. He has published extensively in the psychiatric and psychoanalytic literature on various theoretical and clinical issues. He has also made numerous presentations at meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Academy of Psychoanalysis, most recently two papers to the former in 2006 on subjective elements in art criticism and the efficacy of sublimation in the life and work of Willem de Kooning.
Published March 10, 2009 by Random House. 496 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Turner

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Employing newly available sketchbooks, Hamilton (Turner and the Scientists) contends that painter J.W.M. Turner (1775–1851) was a prodigy who first exhibit

May 05 2003 | Read Full Review of Turner

Huffington Post

(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) The Turner Prize 2012 Press Preview LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Turner Prize nominee Spartacus Chetwynd performs 'Odd Man Out 2011' at Tate Britain on October 1, 2012 in London, England.

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Turner


But the libretto that Lansner has extracted from Turner's book provides only sketchy information on Turner's culture-deprived youth, her introduction to husband Ike's sinister charisma, the not-so-glory years with his band, and Turner's eventually working up the courage to go it solo.

Jul 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Turner

Rate this book!

Add Review