One of Britain’s most celebrated artists, Turner showed exceptional artistic talent from an early age and entered the Royal Academy aged fourteen. His English landscapes made his name but there was a darker side to his paintings that was difficult for the critics to swallow, both in the increasingly informal use of paint and the subject matter that was critical of the romanticised vision of Britain in the late nineteenth century.
Turner bequeathed 300 of his paintings and 20,000 watercolours and drawings to the nation. He led a secretive private life. He never married, but had a mistress and fathered two children. He died in a temporary lodging in Chelsea, under the assumed name of Booth.