Art: Loftiness in London

When Joseph Mallord William Turner died in London a century ago, he left 200 of his oils and no fewer than 19,000 water-colors and drawings to the British nation. Last week the British Museum put 300 of the watercolors on display. The lot showed, as no single picture can, that Turner stands among the greatest artists who ever lived.

He studied art hard, and before he was 20 Turner knew about all there was to learn about painting pretty pictures of castles, ruined abbeys and snug landscapes. Trips on the Continent vastly broadened his range. He enjoyed the old masters without often...

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