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This self-portrait appears to date from around 1799 when Turner was about twenty-four years old. It was possibly intended to mark an important moment in his career, his election as an Associate of the Royal Academy. Despite his relative youth, Turner had already made a name for himself as an original, accomplished painter with the technical abilities of someone more mature. He had been described in the newspapers as an artist who ‘seems thoroughly to understand the mode of adjusting and applying his various materials’ and ‘their effect in oil or on paper is equally sublime’.

February 2010