Norham Castle Sunrise Analysis Essay

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  • John Ruskin


Norham Castle, Sunrise got the attention it deserved only after Turner's death. This painting was not released to the public while the artist was still living. It received a notable amount of praise during the early twentieth century and continues to attract reception of modern art appreciators of today.

Contemporary Reception:
This piece was not released to the public as Turner felt it was unfinished. Though he wouldn't have dared exhibit an unfinished piece to the Royal Academy, it served as an inspiration for the later Impressionists who were often criticized for their "unfinished" paintings. One can only wonder if he had finished the work, if it would be admired as greatly as it is today.

Posthumous Reception:
The 1906 Exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London marked the rediscovery of Turner. Norham Castle, Sunrise, along with twenty more of Turner's unfinished work were showcased to the public for the first time.

Despite Turner's own reservations about his unfinished work being viewed, the onlookers appreciated his work as complete. What he felt to be the most important part of his work, the lighting, was still recognized as extraordinary, finished or not. The critic of the Spectator newspaper wrote, 'Turner in his latest development, more than any artist who had gone before him, painted not so much the objects he saw as the light which played round them. "

Perhaps the audience gave such positive attention to the gallery because, as Sir Charles Holroyd, the Keeper of the Tate, mentioned the modern public was by now well enough educated to "
appreciate what are called impressionist pictures."

Throughout the twentieth century appreciation for Norham Castle, Sunrise continued to grow. It has continued to inspire artists and musicians. British composer George Benjamin's At First Light (1982) is a clear indication of this piece's lasting influence.

Modern Day Reception:
The influential English art critic John Ruskin described Turner as the artist who could most "
stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature. " Audiences today still agree with this statement. Art appreciators and critics alike flock to Turner's exhibits, Norham Castle, Sunrise being among his works that attracts the most excited attention.


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