Volltext: The genius of J. M. W. Turner, R. A.

Perhaps at the end, to get more freedom, he will repaint it-as Corot 
desired to do-without looking at Nature; but if at any moment 
he should have need to assure himself of a form or of a tone, he 
looks, and as Nature is always there, incapable of change, her presence 
is a support to him. In Crossing the Brook or The Bay of Beziw 
Turner could only gain by sticking as closely as possible to his 
model. He looked at the trees, instead of imagining them. But 
when it was a question-and with Turner it often was a question- 
of things which one cannot study from beginning to end because 
they P353 away so quickly-forms and colours, fantasies which 
Nature makes and unmakes unceasingly, like the liquid embroidery 
of the waves, or the Penelopean tapestry, or the play of sunlight on 
watery vapours-then to produce your pictures direct from Nature 
is of no use Whatever. Long before one has fixed the form of a 
wave it has broken on the strand; the tint of a cloud_it has 
vanished into space; a figure of vapour-"_Fata morgana" has 
passed. .  . If one continue to put into _]LlXt21pOSlt1OI1 a new 
form, and the old form which it contradicts, or add a fresh cloud 
tone to the precedent tone, which it obscures, one is doing what 
Nature does not do. From excess of conscientiousness in reproducing 
Nature, the artist has betrayed her. 
Qn the other hand, the artist who, after having thoroughly 
absorbed the laws of water in movement, the groupings of clouds and 
the reflections of oblique light on the screen of vapours in long 
observation of the sea, and after having taken copious notes, returns 
to his studio, retains in his memory the forms which have most 
strongly impressed him. Knowing how Nature contrives to set forth 
her spectacle, he acts accordingly. That which she has created he 
re_ereates_ That which she has stammered he says outright, and thus 
he realises something which perhaps he has not seen, something which 
perhaps Nature has not accomplished, but which she could accom- 
plish, something Which it were possible one might see. Whereas 
he who laboriously juxtaposes a crowd of veritable, but successive, 
effects, depicts an ensemble such as Nature, which is one and har- 
monious, never produces, can never produce, an ensemble such as one 
can never witness.    
What was Turner's method of observation? Continuous? No, 
but intense and continually reminiscent. One knows his life-that 
of a recluse, full of monotony, buried Within the darkest house in 
the dingiest part of London, varied by rare flights to tne English 
seaports, or to the land of.Sun_. As for his surroundings, we knew 
what they were too, for his biographers have described for us, toe 
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