View in the Avon Gorge, 1791, pencil, ink and watercolour on paper, 23 x 29 cm, Londres, Tate.
"These are celestial and fluvial feasts of a sublime nature, which has been divested of its outer shell and rendered completely fluid by a great poet," wrote Huysmans of Turner's works. This exhibition, staged in conjunction with the Tate Britain, presents every facet of Turner the watercolourist, between sky and earth, rivers and mountains. It features approximately sixty watercolours (some being shown for the first time in France), together with ten-odd oil paintings featuring highly varied techniques and styles: sometimes Symbolist, sometimes Expressionist, sometimes verging on abstraction. The chronological circuit takes us through the development of his work step by step, from his "conventional" beginnings to his more radical mature works by way of his travels in Europe. While the early works evince topographical realism, landscapes become increasingly a pretext, with the artist obsessed above all by sunlight and its effects. During the last ten years of his life, a more prolific Turner painted only for a small circle of collectors: a time when he used pure pigments in primary colours. The last two rooms are a positive firework display: all works he produced "to please himself." Intimate and expressive, they provide a unique glimpse into the private workings of a Romantic painter.