Brentford to Oxford:


J.M.W.Turner’s Early Career under the Guardianship of his Uncle, J.M.W.Marshall



By Selby Whittingham


Publication date:                  30 January 2010.   Reprinted with corrections April 2010.

ISBN  1 874564 18 3         134 pages,  illustrated,   A4,  slide binding.


This shows how Turner, so far from being a deprived child from a wholly poor background, had the advantage of family support, leading to the backing of more educated families, such as the Trimmers and Hardwicks of Brentford, on whom it includes new detailed information, and then to an entrée into the world of Oxford University and so to patronage beyond it.  


The very early opportunity to travel out of London and to see classic works of art, involving introductions to people such as the Stonhouses of Radley, led also to interests in the rural landscape and economy, rivers, the Wye and the Picturesque, the coasts and sea, the old masters, architecture (both Gothic and classical), classical literature, poetry, music, politics, religion, and so to other matters, such as charity, almshouses, collegiate institutions and museums, which occupied a major, but largely neglected, side of his career involving the Cobbs of Isleworth and the Marshes, who shared Herefordshire roots with the Hardwicks.


Much contemporary writing about Turner carries the implication that he was unfortunate in being poorly educated. However part of his luck was that he, like Shakespeare, escaped a university education. Yet his encounter with Oxford University, awakening from its long torpor, may have helped foster an appreciation of intellectual matters and a passion for enquiry, a trait not always evident in successful artists, but one which led to his stylistic innovations and pursuit of wide-ranging subjects.  


This is a counterpart to J.M.W.Turner’s Tonbridge & District, dealing with the same years but with the Thames rather than the Medway.  It is based on the extensive researches of the author and others made over a decade.


“Such a useful addition to Turner scholarship … What a fascinating range of illustrations,” Carolyn Hammond, Editor, Journal of the Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society;  It makes a very impressive account,”  Dr Tim Marshall, Oxford Brookes University.


J.M.W.Turner, R.A., Publications, Turner House, 153 Cromwell Road, London SW5 OTQ.

 £20.00.  (If the payment is not in Sterling, add £8 to cover conversion costs).  Make cheques payable to “J.S.Whittingham (Turner Account)”.


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