Colour and Line exhibition installation view

Wall display in this exhibition at Tate Britain showing how Turner’s palette changed as he travelled through Europe

Photos: Sam Drake,
© Tate 2007

During his lifetime, Turner made as many as forty sketching tours across Britain and Europe. The purpose of these trips was to gather visual material to use as inspiration for his finished works. Many of the watercolours he produced as prints and sold as a collectible series of ‘Picturesque’ landscapes.

Each new place Turner visited offered him new challenges: of changing geographies, exciting architecture and, most importantly, different qualities of light. In this room, you can explore how he experimented with and varied his materials and techniques in response to diverse locations and new advances in pigments.

‘I have fortunately met with a good-tempered, funny little, elderly gentleman… He is continually popping his head out of the window to sketch whatever strikes his fancy… He speaks but a few words of Italian, about as much of French, which two languages he jumbles together most amusingly. His good temper, however, carries him through all his troubles… The name on his trunk is J.W. or J.M.W. Turner!’
Quoted in a letter from an unknown artist to Thomas Uwins

Colour and Line exhibition installation view

Wall display in this exhibition at Tate Britain showing how Turner’s palette changed as he travelled through Europe

Photo: Sam Drake,
© Tate 2007