Turner’s Lighthouse

Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775–1851)
Long Ship’s Lighthouse, Land’s End, about 1834–1835, Watercolor and gouache, scraped by the artist

There are many artists I’ve had a hard time connecting with instinctively. Sometimes I sit with a work by one of these artists, in this case Turner, and look it more carefully. It’s pretty rewarding. Today, what I saw first in this watercolor was its intense and violent movement. Then, I spotted the lighthouse referred to in the title. You might be forgiven for not noticing it, which is part of the narrative power of this image. Probably the pilot of the wreck in the foreground didn’t notice it either. Finally, I saw the birds soaring away as if nothing very important happened here. All at once, I connected with Turner.



Pastor. Author. Violinist.

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