Explore the detail - Turners paintings are a unique historic resource ... Photography was alive and well in Turners time, yet no camera captured the spirit of an age and lifestyle like he did. He should be studied and valued for this skill alone. This was his great unrecognised contribution to Australian art and his even bigger contribution to Australian History. Art contemporaries and critics of the time were not kind to Turner. He has been referred to, by some, as an illustrator. He painted in extreme detail when “impressionism” was the fashion of the day. Turner seems to have set out to record in painstaking detail the life and daily pursuits of the small rural settler in the ranges to the north and north east of Melbourne, Victoria Australia. At the time this was “battlers country”, life was hard and pleasures simple. It is only when you study a large collection of Turner’s works that you realise the underlying pattern. He has taken the main aspects of life in the bush and presented them in context, together with the necessary tools and “instructions” to get the job in hand done. In most paintings the detail is so good that even the tree species is obvious to the trained eye. His presentation is often humorous, sometimes wry (humorously sarcastic or mocking) and sometimes idealised. You can read it all in the “Snake!” episode above. If you look closely you will find joy, improvisation, anticipation, mate-ship, love, pain tragedy and above all the indomitable spirit that built this country. In short you will find a window on our history all from the brush of one man.
Painting title: “A Snake! - tools and instructions
Splitting fence rails from Broad-leaved Peppermint E. dives.
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The art of Australian painter James Alfred Turner (1850 - 1908)
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