Turner’s Firenze

It’s difficult to decide the ideal starting place for a discussion, so I will just talk about the first thing that comes to mind: J. M. W. Turner, since I’ve just recently presented a paper on his works. A virtual tour of Tate’s online Turner gallery always yields fascinating discoveries of his lesser-known paintings, many of which I find more pleasing than his more famous pictures. I love Turner’s Florence paintings, particularly the view of the city from San Miniato (see above) – the view in real life is breath-taking. Turner’s topographical and architectural scenes are distinguished for their details and their relative faithfulness to the actual landscape. This Florence painting was probably based on a sketch that Turner did during his 1819 tour of Italy, though the painting itself would have been completed c. 1827, in connection with a project that Turner was working on for the publisher Charles Heath, entitled Picturesque Views of Italy – unfortunately, the book never appeared, due to the publisher’s financial difficulties.

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