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J.M.W. Turner

J.M.W. Turner, after Sir John Gilbert, circa 1837 - NPG 5566 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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J.M.W. Turner

after Sir John Gilbert
pencil, circa 1837
13 in. x 10 in. (330 mm x 254 mm)
Given by Mrs Clifford Musgrove, 1983
Primary Collection
NPG 5566

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897), Painter and illustrator. Artist associated with 10 portraits, Sitter associated with 16 portraits.

This portraitback to top

A precocious and prolific artist, Turner was also an intrepid traveller throughout Britain and Europe, recording his journeys in numerous sketches and watercolours. His early oil paintings reflect the influence of Claude and Poussin. Later his landscapes became remarkable for their dazzling effects of light and colour and were described by Constable as 'airy visions painted with tinted steam'. In the last five years of his life, Turner's health and eyesight failed him but he continued to paint, his art misunderstood by the art establishment but championed by John Ruskin in his Modern Painters, the first volume of which appeared in 1843.

Linked publicationsback to top

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1837back to top

Current affairs

The controversial monarch William IV dies of pneumonia in June leaving no legitimate heirs, and is succeeded to the throne by his niece Victoria, one month after her eighteenth birthday.
The Registration Act of Births, Marriages and Deaths makes it compulsory for all births, marriages and deaths to be registered at a Registry Office.

Art and science

Dickens's second novel Oliver Twist is serialised in Bentley's Magazine. The story of the orphan Oliver is an attack on the Poor Law Amendment Acts (1834), a highly contentious piece of legislation which abolished outdoor relief, effectively increasing entry in the workhouse. The novel, famously made into a musical in 1968, marks Dickens as an outspoken social critic as well as a highly popular and commercial writer.


The Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin is killed in a duel with Baron Georges d'Anthès. Considered the founder of modern Russian literature, Pushkin blended Old Slavonic with vernacular Russian and was the first Russian writer to use everyday speech in his poetry. His works include Eugene Onegin.

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Dr Selby Whittingham (temporary assistant, NPG, 1960)

08 October 2018, 12:38

The drawing for this (one of the best portraits of Turner) is at the Courtauld Gallery.
I incidentally have a portrait by Gilbert of Bishop John Fisher's daughter, Mrs Elizabeth Mirehouse,
for whose wedding John Constable painted one of his pictures of Salisbury Cathedral.

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