Colour Beginning (1819) by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Colour Beginning - Joseph Mallord William Turner - 1819

Artwork Information

TitleColour Beginning
ArtistJoseph Mallord William Turner
Dimensions22.5 x 28.6 cm
Current LocationTate Gallery, London

About Colour Beginning

Joseph Mallord William Turner’s “Colour Beginning,” completed in 1819, is a part of a collection of “colour beginnings” where Turner plotted out his composition and color harmonies before creating the final design. His aim was to elevate landscape painting to be closer to history painting, experimenting with new techniques. In the 1800s, his painting style shifted towards becoming more luminous and atmospheric.

Turner used red, yellow, and blue as the main colors in his works which are linked to the Romantic movement and considered precursors to Impressionism. “Storm at Sea,” created by Turner reflects his interpretation of light exemplifying freedom, immediacy, abstraction and mysticism. While visiting Venice in 1819, Turner moved away from realism towards a symbolist interpretation of nature further indicating that he was open to changing his artistic perspective as he grew.

Turner traveled to Scotland in 1818 where produced watercolors for a commission resulting in works such as “Edinburgh from Calton Hill” and “Heriot’s Hospital.” Research shows that these were created using similar creative methods employed in making ‘Colour Beginning.’ The variety seen across all these paintings showcases the magnitude of innovation that took place during this period; demonstrating how artists worked with different techniques or modes of thought during their careers.

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