If anything comes from these recent blockbuster surveys of artists from different eras, it’s that creative greatness can only matched by the size of one’s ego. Long before Picasso was dueling it out with the ghosts of Delacroix and Gericault, J.M.W Turner was bequeathing his works to museums, under the condition that they be in the presence of classics. Kanye West, there may be hope for you yet.
From the Tate UK website:
This unforgettable show places beautiful masterpieces by Canaletto, Rubens, Rembrandt and Titian next to some of JMW Turner’s most dramatic paintings. It shines light on a lesser-known side of the British Romantic painter: his obsession to prove he was just as good, if not better, than the old masters who he so admired.
Turner was born into a working-class family and relentlessly pursued his ambition to be a great artist, once proclaiming, ‘I am the great lion of the day.’ He entered into direct competition with artists – past and present – who he considered as worthy rivals to his own fame. In a final act of self-promotion, he asked in his bequest that two of his paintings hang in the National Gallery alongside the work of Claude Lorrain – and you can see these stunning paintings in this exhibition. Turner also had a great rivalry with John Constable. At the Royal Academy exhibition in 1832, Turner upstaged Constable by adding a dash of red to his own painting at the last minute – and Constable was none too pleased.
“Turner and the Masters,” now on view until January 31st at the Tate UK, London.