The Mew Stone at the Entrance of Plymouth Sound – Turner

Today I take a little break from the post impressionist artist, and give a little dedication to my dad, who on Saturday completely surprised me by discussing the work of Turner with me. This is the man who, when I wax lyrical on art, he says he just sees the painting, so you can imagine, my heart skipped a beat, when the man I idolise was telling me how much he likes the work of Turner and the style he paints in. He even discussed the use of colour and flow of the pieces he was talking about.

It’s not coincidence that I have then selected this piece to demonstrate the work of Turner, as my dad is from Plymouth, and many times I have stood with him and looked out from the sound to see the sea. Just in case you aren’t sure what the sound is, it is a bay on the English Channel in Plymouth, with southwest and southeast corners in Penlee point in Cornwall and Wembury point in Devon.

This painting, has in the past been confused with the Bass rock in Scotland, but reviewing sketchbooks, historians finally concluded that this was in fact the Mew Stone.

Turner as a painter gained notoriety at an early age, and was successful throughout his life, enabling him to really explore his style and technique. He developed his colour palette and produced amazing atmospheric landscape views. Turner favoured subjects such as ship wrecks and fires, and notably rushed to take sketches first hand of the burning of parliament in 1834. He relished natural catastrophes and phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, sunlight through storms and he was mesmerised by the violent and volatile power of the sea.

Turner placed people or man made objects in his paintings to show the affects of nature on on humanity, very much like in this painting the ship is struggling against the tidal currents and waves.

While Turner’s paintings appear to be impressionistic and a forerunner for then French stream of art, he actually was pushing for the expression of spirituality in the world, rather than responding to the primary view of what the painting is.

What we see in the Mew Stone is the complete vulnerability of the ship, at the mercy of the sea. A dark storm brewing over the rock, with sun breaking through the cloud. The heavens echoing the tumultuous nature of the waters beneath.

This stunning painting shows the drama of nature, as do many other works of Turner, which can be seen here.


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