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J.M.W. Turner: Quest for the Sublime

Presented by Frist Art Museum at Frist Art Museum, Nashville TN

Feb 20 2020
Sep 07 2020
J.M.W. Turner: Quest for the Sublime

One of England’s greatest artists, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) was a leading figure in the Romantic movement of the late 18th- through mid-19th centuries, which arose in response to the Enlightenment emphasis on reason over emotion. For Turner, psychological expression and the liberation of the imagination were of paramount importance. He achieved these goals by employing extreme contrasts of intense light and gloomy clouds, dramatic topographies, and energetic brushstrokes.

The oil paintings and watercolors in this exhibition span Turner’s career, from the 1790s to the 1840s. Storm and flood are portrayed as compelling forces unto themselves, while also serving as settings for historical and modern dramas. Mountains and sea show the world in a state of flux: the slow creep of glaciers in the Alps, the sudden fall of an avalanche, the swell and heave of the ocean. Human transition is captured as well, with images of steamships and other suggestions of industry heralding the ascendant machine age. The exhibition concludes with elemental images of sea and sky, painted late in Turner’s life, which appear nearly abstract. These works recall an observation made by one of Turner’s contemporaries, the artist John Constable: “Turner . . . seems to paint with tinted steam, so evanescent and so airy.”

Organized in cooperation with Tate

Supported in part by the 2020 Frist Gala Patrons

Image: J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851). Peace—Burial at Sea, exhibited 1842. Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 34 1/8 in. Tate: Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856. Photo © Tate, 2019

Source: Frist Art Museum


Please visit here for reopening information.

Free/Frist Art Museum members
Free/Visitors 18 and younger
$10/College students with ID*
$8/Active-duty military
$12/Adult for Groups (10+ with advance reservations)

*Admission is free for college students with school ID on Thursday and Friday evenings from 5pm to 9pm (including Frist Fridays).

Contact: (615) 244-3340

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Additional time info:

Note: Frist Art Museum’s standard hours of operation will remain the same, with one exception: on Thursdays, they will close at 5:30pm instead of 9pm.

* Event durations (if noted) are approximate. Please check with the presenting organization or venue to confirm start times and duration.


Frist Art Museum

919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
(Neighborhood: Downtown)

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

If your event is being affected, canceled, or postponed due to the response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, please provide the details below.:

The Frist Art Museum has established a plan for reopening in stages beginning June 22 with an initial members-only period. With continued improvement/stability of Davidson County COVID-19 metrics, the exhibition galleries will reopen to the general public on July 1 with required advance timed ticketing.

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