He was only eighteen years old, yet William Turner’s watercolors were already praised in print as follows: “By dint of his superior art he has rolled such clouds over these landscapes as has given to a flat country an equal grandeur with mountain scenery, while they fully account for the striking and natural effects of light and shade which he has introduced.” The critic John Ruskin would also become a big supporter in the artist’s later years.
How could they not admire those rolling landscapes, the colorful skies! No wonder Turner’s considered a precursor to the Impressionists! Oh wait—wrong William Turner.
Joseph Mallord William (J. M. W.) Turner (1775–1851) was, of course, one of the British masters of watercolor landscape painting, much championed by the aforementioned John Ruskin. But his near contemporary, William Turner (1789–1862), was a fellow Royal Academic who also specialized in watercolor landscapes. This Turner is usually referred to as William Turner of Oxford—after the setting of many of his landscapes—to distinguish him from his better-known namesake.
As Luke Herrmann wrote in the Oxoniensia journal, “[Turner of Oxford] ranks as a pleasing minor artist, whose work in water-colours occasionally, especially in his early years, rose to considerable heights.” It might not be the stuff that inspires a movie, but as you can see from the beauty of these images from the Yale Center for British Art‘s collection in the Artstor Digital Library, “considerable heights” is certainly nothing to sniff at.