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Turner's Thames

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Matthew Collings is the most engaging of art presenters: you really sense his passion for what he’s discussing, whether it’s Renaissance painting, the concept of beauty or, here, exploring the inspiration that painter JMW Turner took from the River Thames. “Turner makes light the vehicle of feeling,” says Collings, in a film that at times is as beautiful as the landscapes that he deconstructs.

Turner, whom Collings describes as “a prophet with his paintings”, gave all his subjects, ancient and modern, the same epic treatment, and the film revels in the vivid colours and contrasts of Turner’s Thames-based works, particularly masterpieces such as The Fighting Temeraire and Rain, Steam and Speed. A film to wallow in.


Matthew Collings explores JMW Turner's paintings of the Thames, examining how he sought to find an equivalent in paint to the river's waters. He discovers the artist turned a boat into a floating studio, and explains how his paintings documented and reflected on key moments of 19th-century history, including the Napoleonic wars, social unrest and the onset of the industrial revolution.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Matthew Collings
Director David Barrie


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