Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer treat! Go to the Peabody Essex Museum and see the Turners!

Here is a review from the Wall Street Journal.

Turner self portrait 1799- detail

Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiori 1834
Fisherman and Sea 1796
Snow Storm steamboat off a Harbors Mouth 1842

If ever there was a case to be made for seeing paintings in person- this is it. The painting of Venice is luminous beyond belief- it just radiates.  The Fisherman and the Sea grabs you from across the room- it has that power- my husband dragged me from another place to see this.

Snow Storm Steamboat off a Harbors Mouth is a delirium of paint.

" I did not paint it to be understood, but I wished to show what is was like."

There is an example of an unfinished painting in the show- you can learn how he blocked things out and set his tones and masses. As a matter of fact in his studio there were left many paintings in a very loose state leaving open the question- if that was the intention as his paintings got more abstracted every year. They dissolve before your eyes in a sensitive veil of shimmering color. Absolutely nothing is fixed.

There are some other very capable contemporary maritime painters that are part of the exhibition but it is Turner than turns the burner on high in this genre.

There is also  a Ruisdael ( beautiful grey clouds) a Whistler and a Sargent. Sargent knew that Turner painted from life, as it were and he was determined to do the same. Included in the show is his vertiginous painting of a ships fore-deck about to be engulfed by a wave.

This museum has a lot of ongoing exhibits and was started in 1799 as A Maritime Hall with objects brought back by sailors and sea-captains for the cultural benefit and edification of the citizenry. It is a jewel of a museum. Of special  interest to me were the Asian collections. Salem was a seafaring and trading town- so there are some exquisite examples. There are three knockout Japanese jars beautifully decorated, both over six feet, one cloisonne and two ceramic. Outstanding!

Salem is a fun place to visit in the summer, great restaurants by the sea and locals dressed up as 17th century folk as tour guides. There are the ubiquitous witchy places and Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables. Do not go around Halloween or (book early) unless you are into that kind of thing.

The restaurant we have frequented several times  is The Grapevine- delicious, fresh, reasonable. It has a lovely patio overlooking the canal.

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