Maria Cosway and Thomas Jefferson

Self-portrait of Maria Cosway, 1787. 

Maria Cosway ( June 11, 1760 –  January 5, 1838) was an Italian-English artist who may have had a torrid love affair with Thomas Jefferson.

Cosway was born Maria Luisa Caterina Cecilia Hadfield (pronounced Mariah) in 1760 in Florence, Italy.  Her father was a successful innkeeper at Livorno and had become very wealthy.  The Hadfields operated three inns in Tuscany, frequented by British aristocrats taking the Grand Tour. One of eight children, Maria demonstrated artistic talent at a young age during her Roman Catholic convent education. She remained a devout Catholic all her life.

Four of the Hadfield children were killed by a mentally ill nursemaid, who was caught after being overheard talking about killing Maria. The nurse claimed that her young victims would be sent to Heaven after she killed them. She was sentenced to life in prison. Only Maria, her brothers Richard and George, and a younger sister Charlotte survived. At her father's death,  her mother returned with her to England; they settled in London in 1779.

Maria's brother George Hadfield became an architect and designed Arlington House in Virginia, which later became the home of Robert E. Lee, the noted Confederate general during the American Civil War.

While still in Florence, Maria Hadfield studied art under Violente Cerroti and Johann Zoffany. From 1773 to 1778, she copied Old Masters at the Uffizi Gallery. For her work, she was elected to the Academia del Disegno in Florence in 1778. She also went to Rome, where she studied art under Batoni. She studied with Anton Raphael Mengs, Henry Fuseli, and Joseph Wright of Derby.

On 18 January 1781, Maria Hadfield married a fellow artist, the celebrated miniature portrait painter Richard Cosway, in what is thought to have been a marriage of convenience. He was 20 years her senior, known as a libertine, and was repeatedly unfaithful to her.  Richard was "commonly described as resembling a monkey."

Her Italian manners were so foreign that her husband kept Maria secluded until she fully mastered the English language. But, he also realized his wife's talent and helped her to develop it.

 More than 30 of her works were displayed at the Royal Academy of Art from 1781 until 1801. She soon increased her reputation as an artist, especially when her portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire in the character of Cynthia was exhibited. Among her personal acquaintances were Lady Lyttelton; the Hon. Mrs. Darner, the Countess of Aylesbury; Lady Cecilia Johnston; and the Marchioness of Townshend. In 1784, the Cosways moved into Schomberg House, Pall Mall, which became a fashionable salon for London society. Richard was Principal Painter of the Prince of Wales, and Maria served as hostess to artists, members of royalty.

Richard and Maria had one child together, Louisa Paolina Angelica, but the couple eventually separated. Maria often travelled on the continent, on one occasion accompanied by Luigi Marchesi, a famous Italian castrato. (Richard Cosway had painted his portrait, which afterward was engraved by Luigi Schiavonetti (1790).) At the same time Richard was having an open affair with Mary Moser, with whom he travelled for six months. In his notebooks he made "invidious comparisons between her and Mrs Cosway," implying that she was much more sexually responsive than his wife.

In August 1786, the Cosways were introduced by John Trumbull to Thomas Jefferson, who was serving as the American Minister to France in Paris. The widower Jefferson was 43 and Cosway was 27 when they met. After their first meeting at the Grain Market (Halles aux Bleds), Jefferson told his scheduled dinner companion that he needed to tend to official business so that he could spend the evening with Cosway at the Palais Royal.

Cosway and Jefferson shared an interest in art and architecture; they attended exhibits throughout the city and countryside together. He would write of their adventures: "How beautiful was every object! the Pont du Neuilly, the hills along the Seine, the rainbows of the Machine of Marly, the terraces of Saint Germain, the chateaux, the gardens, the statues of Marly, the Pavilion of Louveciennes... In the evening, when one took a retrospect of the day, what a mass of happiness had we travelled over!" Over the course of six weeks, Jefferson developed a romantic attachment to Cosway as they spent each day together.

Upon Cosway's departure for London at the insistence of her husband, Jefferson wrote her a 4,000-word love letter dated October 12–13, 1786. It has been called "The Dialogue of the Head vs. the Heart", in which he writes of his head's conversing with his heart, and the struggle between the practical and the romantic.

Scholars suggest that Jefferson was particularly partial to a romantic attachment at this point in his life. His wife had died four years before; he had just learned of the death of his youngest daughter Lucy; and his other two daughters were away at school. At least one account held that Cosway began to develop stronger feelings for Jefferson, but when she traveled to Paris to meet him again, she found him more distant.
A devout Catholic who did not want to have children, she worried about pregnancy. Some historians believe that nothing further developed in their affair besides correspondence.

Since Jefferson was very discreet, no one knows for sure about their relationship. Their letters would continue for the rest of Jefferson's life after she contacted him again, following his ending his correspondence while he was still in Paris
Historians such as Andrew Burstein have suggested that the relationship was romantic mostly on Jefferson's side, and that Cosway was his opposite, more artistic than rational.
 Both parties saved their letters to each other.  Before Jefferson left Paris, he wrote to her, "I am going to America and you are going to Italy. One of us is going the wrong way, for the way will ever be wrong that leads us further apart."
Cosway introduced Jefferson to her friend Angelica Schuyler Church, the sister-in-law of his ival Alexander Hamilton. Church kept up a correspondence with both Jefferson and Cosway in later life; her correspondence with them is held at the University of Virginia's archive.

At Monticello, Jefferson kept an engraving done by Luigi Schiavonetti, from a drawing Richard Cosway made of Maria. Cosway had Trumbull create a portrait of Jefferson which she kept in turn. (The Italian government gave the portrait she commissioned as a gift to the American government, on the occasion of America's bicentennial in 1976. It now hangs in the White House.)

Cosway eventually moved back to the continent of Europe. She travelled with her brother George Hadfield in Italy, where she lived in the north for three years. She returned to England after the death of her daughter at about age 10. Painting seriously, Cosway completed several religious pictures for chapels.

Despite Napoleon's war with England, she traveled to France. In Paris Cardinal Joseph Fesch persuaded her to establish a college for young ladies, which she managed from 1803 until 1809. The Duke of Lodi invited her to Italy to establish a convent and Catholic school for girls in Lodi (near Milan). She directed the Collegio delle Grazie in northern Italy until her death in 1838.

In 1821 Cosway briefly returned to England to care for her husband before his death. With the aid of her friend Sir John Soane, she auctioned Richard's large art collection, and used the funds to support the convent school.

In a letter to Jefferson (held by the University of Virginia), Cosway mourned the loss of mutual old friends following the death of Angelica Schuyler Church. As a tribute to Church, Cosway designed a temple ceiling depicting the Three Graces surrounding her friend's name. In June 1826, she wrote to the Italian engraver Giovanni Paolo Lasinio Junior, respecting the publication of her husband's drawings in Florence.

Cosway died in 1838 at her school in Lodi.

Head and Heart Letter 

In the spring of 1786, while serving as the US minister to France, Jefferson met—and probably fell in love with—“a young, married Englishwoman named Maria Cosway. Just after Cosway left Paris in October, Jefferson composed this remarkable letter to her in which his head argued with his heart.  

To Maria Cosway

My Dear Madam,--Having performed the last sad office of handing you into your carriage at the pavillon de St. Denis, and seen the wheels get actually into motion, I turned on my heel & walked, more dead than alive, to the opposite door, where my own was awaiting me. Mr. Danquerville was missing. He was sought for, found, & dragged down stairs. WE were crammed into the carriage, like recruits for the Bastille, & not having soul enough to give orders to the coachman, he presumed Paris our destination, & drove off. After a considerable interval, silence was broke with a "Je suis vraiment afflige du depart de ces bons gens." This was a signal for a mutual confession of distress. We began immediately to talk of Mr. & Mrs. Cosway, of their goodness, their talents, their amiability; & tho we spoke of nothing else, we seemed hardly to have entered into matter when the coachman announced the rue St. Denis, & that we were opposite Mr. Danquervilles. He insisted on descending there & traversing a short passage to his lodgings. I was carried home. Seated by my fireside, solitary & sad, the following dialogue took place between my Head & my Heart:

Head. Well, friend, you seem to be in a pretty trim.

Heart. I am indeed the most wretched of all earthly beings. Overwhelmed with grief, every fibre of my frame distended beyond its natural powers to bear, I would willingly meet whatever catastrophe should leave me no more to feel or to fear.

Head. These are the eternal consequences of your warmth & precipitation. This is one of the scrapes into which you are ever leading us. You confess your follies indeed; but still you hug & cherish them; & no reformation can be hoped, where there is no repentance.

Heart. Oh, my friend! This is no moment to upbraid my foibles. I am rent into fragments by the force of my grief! If you have any balm, pour it into my wounds; if none, do not harrow them by new torments. Spare me in this awful moment! At any other I will attend with patience to your admonitions.

Head. On the contrary I never found that the moment of triumph with you was the moment of attention to my admonitions. While suffering under your follies, you may perhaps be made sensible of them, but, the paroxysms over, you fancy it can never return. Harsh therefore as the medicine may be, it is my office to administer it. You will be pleased to remember that when our friend Trumbull used to be telling us of the merits & talents of these good people, I never ceased whispering to you that we had no occasion for new acquaintance; that the greater their merits & talents, the more dangerous their friendship to our tranquillity, because the regret at parting would be greater.

Heart. Accordingly, Sir, this acquaintance was not the consequence of my doings. It wa one of your projects which threw us in the way of it. It was you, remember, & not I, who desired the meeting at Legrand & Molinos. I never trouble myself with domes nor arches. The Halle aux bleds might have rotted down before I should have gone to see it. But you, forsooth, who are eternally getting us to sleep with your diagrams & crotchets, must go & examine this wonderful piece of architecture. And when you had seen it, oh! It was the most superb thing on earth. What you had seen there was worth all you had yet seen in Paris! I thought so too. But I meant it of the lady & gentleman to whom we had been presented; & not of a parcel of sticks & chips put together in pens. You then, Sir, & not I, have been the cause of the present distress.

Head. It would have been happy for you if my diagrams & crotchets had gotten you to sleep on that day, as you are pleased to say they eternally do. My visit to Legrand & Molinos had public utility for its object. A market is to be built in Richmond. What a commodious plan is that of Legrand & Molinos; especially if we put on it the noble dome of the Halle aux bleds. If such a bridge as they skewed us can be thrown across the Schuylkill at Philadelphia, the floating bridges taken up & the navigation of that river opened, what a copious resource will be added, of wood & provisions, to warm & feed the poor of that city? While I was occupied with these objects, you were dilating with your new acquaintances, & contriving how to prevent a separation from them. Every soul of you had an engagement for the day. Yet all these were to be sacrificed, that you might dine together. Lying messengers were to be despatched into every quarter of the city, with apologies for your breach of engagement. You particularly had the effrontery to send word to the Dutchess Danville that, on the moment we were setting out to dine with her, despatches came to hand which required immediate attention. You wanted me to invent a more ingenious excuse; but I knew you were getting into a scrape, & I would have nothing to do with it. Well, after dinner to St. Cloud, from St. Cloud to Ruggieris, from Ruggieri to Krumfoltz, & if the day had been as long as a Lapland summer day, you would still have contrived means among you to have filled it.

Heart. Oh! My dear friend, how you have revived me by recalling to my mind the transactions of that day! How well I remember them all, & that when I came home at night & looked back to the morning, it seemed to have been a month agone. Go on then, like a kind comforter & paint to me the day we went to St. Germains. How beautiful was every object! The Port de Reuilly, the hills along the Seine, the rainbows of the machine of Marly, the terrace of St. Germains, the chateaux, the gardens, the statues of Marly, the pavillon of Lucienne. Recollect too Madrid, Bagatelle, the Kings garden, the Dessert. How grand the idea excited by the remains of such a column! The spiral staircase too was beautiful. Every moment was filled with something agreeable. The wheels of time moved on with a rapidity of which those of our carriage gave but a faint idea. And yet in the evening when one took a retrospect of the day, what a mass of happiness had we travelled over! Retrace all those scenes to me, my good companion, & I will forgive the unkindness with which you were chiding me. The day we went to St. Germains was a little too warm, I think; was it not?

Head. Thou art the most incorrigible of all the beings that ever sinned! I reminded you of the follies of the first day, intending to deduce from thence some useful lessons for you, but instead of listening to these, you kindle at the recollection, you retrace the whole series with a fondness which shews you want nothing but the opportunity to act it over again. I often told you during its course that you were imprudently engaging your affections under circumstances that must have cost you a great deal of pain: that the persons indeed were of the greatest merit, possessing good sense, good humour, honest hearts, honest manners, & eminence in a lovely art; that the lady had moreover qualities & accomplishments, belonging to her sex, which might form a chapter apart for her: such as music, modesty, beauty, & that softness of disposition which is the ornament of her sex & charm of ours, but that all these considerations would increase the pang of separation: that their stay here was to be short: that you rack our whole system when you are parted from those you love, complaining that such a separation is worse than death, inasmuch as this ends our sufferings, whereas that only begins them: & that the separation would in this instance be the more severe as you would probably never see them again.

Heart. But they told me they would come back again the next year.

Head. But in the meantime see what you suffer: & their return too depends on so many circumstances that if you had a grain of prudence you would not count upon it. Upon the whole it is improbable & therefore you should abandon the idea of ever seeing them again.

Heart. May heaven abandon me if I do!

Head. Very well. Suppose then they come back. They are to stay two months, & when these are expired, what is to follow? Perhaps you flatter yourself they may come to America?

Heart. God only knows what is to happen. I see nothing impossible in that supposition. And I see things wonderfully contrived sometimes to make us happy. Where could they find such objects as in America for the exercise of their enchanting art? especially the lady, who paints landscapes so inimirably. She wants only subjects worthy of immortality to render her pencil immortal. The Failing Spring, the Cascade of Niagara, the Passage of the Potowmac through the Blue Mountains, the Natural bridge. It is worth a voyage across the Atlantic to see these objects; much more to paint, and make them, & thereby ourselves, known to all ages. And our own dear Monticello, where has nature spread so rich a mantle under the eye? Mountains, forests, rocks, rivers. With what majesty do we there ride above the storms! How sublime to look down into the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thunder, all fabricated at our feet! And the glorious sun when rising as if out of a distant water, just gilding the tops of the mountains, & giving life to all nature? I hope in God no circumstance may ever make either seek an asylum from grief! With what sincere sympathy I would open every cell of my composition to receive the effusion of their woes! I would pour my tears into their wounds: & if a drop of balm could be found on the top of the Cordilleras, or at the remotest sources of the Missouri, I would go thither myself to seek & to bring it. Deeply practised in the school of affliction, the human heart knows no joy which I have not lost, no sorrow of which I have not drunk! Fortune can present no grief of unknown form to me! Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself? But Heaven forbid they should ever know a sorrow! Let us turn over another leaf, for this has distracted me.

Head. Well. Let us pur this possibility to trial then on another point. When you consider the character which is given of our country by the lying newspapers of London, & their credulous copyers in other countries; when you reflect that all Europe is made to believe we are a lawless banditti, in a state of absolute anarchy, cutting one anothers throats, & plundering without distinction, how can you expect that any reasonable creature would venture among us?

Heart. But you & I know that all this is false: that there is not a country on earth where there is greater tranquillity, where the laws are milder, or better obeyed: where every one is more attentive to his own business, or meddles less with that of others: where strangers are better received, more hospitably treated, & with a more sacred respect.

Head. True, you & I know this, but your friends do not know it.

Heart. But they are sensible people who think for themselves. They will ask of impartial foreigners who have been among us, whether they saw or heard on the spot any instances of anarchy. They will judge too that a people occupied as we are in opening rivers, digging navigable canals, making roads, building public schools, establishing academies, erecting busts & statues to our great men, protecting religious freedom, abolishing sanguinary punishments, reforming & improving our laws in general, they will judge I say for themselves whether these are not the occupations of a people at their ease, whether this is not better evidence of our true state than a London newspaper, hired to lie, & from which no truth can ever be extracted but by reversing everything it says.

Head. I did not begin this lecture my friend with a view to learn from you what America is doing. Let us return then to our point. I wished to make you sensible how imprudent it is to place your affections, without reserve, on objects you must so soon lose, & whose loss when it comes must cost you such severe pangs. Remember that last night. You knew your friends were to leave Paris to-day. This was enough to throw you into agonies. All night you tossed us from one side of the bed to the other. No sleep, no rest. The poor crippled wrist too, never left one moment in the same position, now up, now down, now here, now there; was it to be wondered at if its pains returned? The Surgeon then was to be called, & to be rated as an ignoramus because he could not divine the cause of this extraordinary change. In fine, my friend, you must mend your manners. This is not a world to live at random in as you do. To avoid those eternal distresses, to which you are forever exposing us, you must learn to look forward before you take a step which may interest our peace. Everything in this world is a matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, & see which preponderates. The making an acquaintance is not a matter of indifference. When a new one is proposed to you, view it all round. Consider what advantages it presents, & to what inconveniences it may expose you. Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it. The art of life is the art of avoiding pain: & he is the best pilot who steers clearest of the rocks & shoals with which he is beset. Pleasure is always before us; but misfortune is at our side: while running after that, this arrests us. The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, & to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. Even in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride serene & sublime above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth & nature, matter & motion, the laws which bind up their existence, & that eternal being who made & bound them up by those laws. Let this be our employ. Leave the bustle & tumult of society to those who have not talents to occupy themselves without them. Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies & the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another? Is there so little gall poured into our cup that we must needs help to drink that of our neighbor? A friend dies or leaves us: we feel as if a limb was cut off. He is sick: we must watch over him, & participate of his pains. His fortune is shipwrecked; ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it were our own.

Heart. And what more sublime delight than to mingle tears with one whom the hand of heaven hath smitten! To watch over the bed of sickness, & to beguile its redious & its painful moments! To share our bread with one to whom misfortune has left none! This world abounds indeed with misery: to lighten its burthen we must divide it with one another. But let us now try the virtues of your mathematical balance, & as you have put into one scale the burthen of friendship, let me put its comforts into the other. When languishing then under disease, how grateful is the solace of our friends! How are we penetrated with their assiduities & attentions! How much are we supported by their encouragements & kind offices! When heaven has taken from us some object of our love, how sweet is it to have a bosom whereon to recline our heads, & into which we may pour the torrent of our tears! Grief, with such a comfort, is almost a luxury! In a life where we are perpetually exposed to want & accident, yours is a wonderful proposition, to insulate ourselves, to retire from all aid, & to wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-sufficiency! For assuredly nobody will care for him who care for nobody. But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life; & thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine. I will recur for proof to the days we have lately passed. On these indeed the sun shone brightly. How gay did the face of nature appear! Hills, valleys, chateaux, gardens, rivers, every object wore its liveliest hue! Whence did they borrow it? From the presence of our charming companion. They were pleasing, because she seemed pleased. Alone, the scene would have been dull & insipid: the participation of it with her gave it relish. Let the gloomy monk, sequestered from the world, seek unsocial pleasures in the bottom of his cell! Let the sublimated philosopher grasp visionary happiness while pursuing phantoms dressed in the garb of truth! Their supreme wisdom is supreme folly; & they mistake for happiness the mere absence of pain. Had they ever felt the solid pleasure of one generous spasm of the heart, they would exchange for it all the frigid speculations of their lives, which you have been vaunting in such elevated terms. Believe me then my friend, that that is a miserable arithmetic which, could estimate friendship at nothing, or at less than nothing. Respect for you has induced me to enter into this discussion, & to hear principles uttered which I detest & abjure. Respect for myself now obliges me to recall you into the proper limits of your office. When nature assigned us the same habitation, she gave us over it a divided empire. To you she allotted the field of science; to me that of morals. When the circle is to be squared, or the orbit of a comet to be traced; when the arch of greatest strength, or the solid of least resistance is to be investigated, take up the problem; it is yours; nature has given me no cognizance of it. In like manner, in denying to you the feelings of sympathy, of benevolence, of gratitude, of justice, of love, of friendship, she has excluded you from their controul. To these she has adapted the mechanism of the heart. Morals were too essential to the happiness of man to be risked on the incertain combinations of the head. She laid their foundation therefore in sentiment, not in science. That she gave to all, as necessary to all: this to a few only, as sufficing with a few. I know indeed that you pretend authority to the sovereign controul of our conduct in all its parts: & a respect for your grave saws & maxims, a desire to do what is right, has sometimes induced me to conform to your counsels. A few facts however which I can readily recall to your memory, will suffice to prove to you that nature has not organized you for our moral direction. When the poor wearied souldier whom we overtook at Chickahomony with his pack on his back, begged us to let him get up behind our chariot, you began to calculate that the road was full of souldiers, & that if all should be taken up our horses would fail in their journey. We drove on therefore. But soon becoming sensible you had made me do wrong, that tho we cannot relieve all the distressed we should relieve as many as we can, I turned about to take up the souldier; but he had entered a bye path, & was no more to be found; & from that moment to this I could never find him out to ask his forgiveness. Again, when the poor woman came o ask a charity in Philadelphia, you whispered that she looked like a drunkard, & that half a dollar was enough to give her for the ale-house. Those who want the dispositions to give, easily find reasons why they ought not to give. When I sought her out afterwards, & did what I should have done at first, you know that she employed the money immediately towards placing her child at school. If our country, when pressed with wrongs at the point of the bayonet, had been governed by its heads instead of its hearts, where should we have been now? Hanging on a gallows as high as Hamans. You began to calculate & to compare wealth and numbers: we threw up a few pulsations of our warmest blood; we supplied enthusiasm against wealth and numbers; we put our existence to the hazard when the hazard seemed against us, and we saved our country: justifying at the same time the ways of Providence, whose precept is to do always what is right, and leave the issue to him. In short, my friend, as far as my recollection serves me, I do not know that I ever did a good thing on your suggestion, or a dirty one without it. I do forever then disclaim your interference in my province. Fill papers as you please with triangles & squares: try how many ways you can hang & combine them together. I shall never envy nor controul your sublime delights. But leave me to decide when & where friendships are to be contracted. You say I contract them at random. So you said the woman at Philadelphia was a drunkard. I receive no one into my esteem till I know they are worthy of it. Wealth, title, office, are no recommendations to my friendship. On the contrary great good qualities are requisite to make amends for their having wealth, title, & office. You confess that in the present case I could not have made a worthier choice. You only object that I was so soon to lose them. We are not immortal ourselves, my friend; how can we expect our enjoyments to be so? We have no rose without its thorn; no pleasure without alloy. It is the law of our existence; & we must acquiesce. It is the condition annexed to all our pleasures, not by us who receive, but by him who gives them. True, this condition is pressing cruelly on me at this moment. I feel more fit for death than life. But when I look back on the pleasures of which it is the consequence, I am conscious they were worth the price I am paying. Notwithstanding your endeavours too to damp my hopes, I comfort myself with expectations of their promised return. Hope is sweeter than despair, & they were too good to mean to deceive me. In the summer, said the gentleman; but in the spring, said the lady: & I should love her forever, were it only for that! Know then, my friend, that I have taken these good people into my bosom; that I have lodged them in the warmest cell I could find: that I love them, & will continue to love them through life: that if fortune should dispose them on one side the globe, & me on the other, my affections shall pervade its whole mass to reach them. Knowing then my determination, attempt not to disturb it. If you can at any time furnish matter for their amusement, it will be the office of a good neighbor to do it. I will in like manner seize any occasion which may offer to do the like good turn for you with Condorcet, Rittenhouse, Madison, La Cretelle, or any other of those worthy sons of science whom you so justly prize.

I thought this a favorable proposition whereon to rest the issue of the dialogue. So I put an end to it by calling for my night-cap. Methinks I hear you wish to heaven I had called a little sooner, & so spared you the ennui of such a sermon. I did not interrupt them sooner because I was in a mood for hearing sermons. You too were the subject; & on such a thesis I never think the theme long; not even if I am to write it, and that slowly & awkwardly, as now, with the left hand. But that you may not be discouraged from a correspondence which begins so formidably, I will promise you on my honour that my future letters shall be of a reasonable length. IO will even agree to express but half my esteem for you, for fear of cloying you with too full a dose. But, on your part, no curtailing. If your letters are as long as the bible, they will appear short to me. Only let them be brimful of affection. I shall read them with the dispositions with which Arlequin, in Les deux billets spelt the words "je taime," and wished that the whole alphabet had entered into their composition.

We have had incessant rains since your departure. These make me fear for your health, as well as that you had an uncomfortable journey. The same cause has prevented me from being able to give you any account of your friends here. This voyage to Fontainebleau will probably send the Count de Moustier & the Marquise de Brehan to America. Danquerville promised to visit me, but has not done it as yet. De la Tude comes sometimes to take family soup with me, & entertains me with anecdotes of his five & thirty years imprisonment. How ferrile is the mind of man which can make the Bastile & Dungeon of Vincennes yield interesting anecdotes! You know this was for making four verses on Mme de Pompadour. But IO think you told me you did not know the verses. They were these: Sans esprit, sans sentiment, Sans etre belle, ni neuve, En France on peut avoir ie premier amant: Pontpadour en es l epreuve." I have read the memoir of his three escapes. As to myself my health is good, except my wrist which mends slowly, & my mind which mends not at all, but broods constantly over your departure. The lateness of the season obliges me to decline my journey into the south of France. Present me in the most friendly terms to Mr. Cosway, & receive me into your own recollection with a partiality & a warmth, proportioned, not to my own poor merit, but to the sentiments of sincere affection & esteem with which I have the honour to be, my dear Madam, your most obedient humble servant.

An Old Man and his Grandson Circa 1490 by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Tempera on panel, 62.7 cm x 46.3 cm. Louvre, Paris.

File:Domenico ghirlandaio, ritratto di nonno con nipote.jpg

The deformity of the man's nose is evidence of rhinophyma, a large, bulbous, ruddy nose caused by granulomatous infiltration, commonly due to untreated rosacea.

File:Pala degli innocenti, ghirlandaio, autoritratto.jpg

Supposed self-portrait, from Adoration of the Magi, 1488


“I was happiest when I couldn’t sell my paintings. Apart from a few friends only I liked them. I loved them like a mother loves her unfortunate children." Henri Matisse (1946) 

“I don’t care about the word art because it has been so discredited. I want to get rid of it in the way many people today have done away with religion." Marcel Duchamp, Late Night Line-Up (1968) 

“Who made art history? Not the most reasonable people. The mad men did. If painting is the mirror of a time, it must be mad to have a true image of what that time is. To one madness we oppose another madness.” Max Ernst, Monitor (1961) 

“There is no progress in art. Just as there is no progress in the manner of making love. There are only different ways of doing it... When they ask me “Do you like the old masters?”, I say I think they’re wonderful. Ask the old masters what they think of my things, it might be more interesting to hear their opinion.” Man Ray, BBC interview, (1973) 

“People call them matchstick figures. They may be. I don’t mind. If they like to call them matchstick figures, well, let them go and do it. They’re probably quite right. But it doesn’t concern me. All I do is to paint figures as I seem them.” LS Lowry (1957) 

“If there is mystery in my work, it is a matter of the unknowable… I believe the world is a mystery, and that mystery cannot be spoken of in words. We are all a mystery, we are part of the world which is itself a mystery.” René Magritte, Monitor (1965) 

“Salvador Dalí is very rich, and I love treeemendously money and gold. Dalí sleeps best after the day he receives a treeemendous quantity of cheques.” Dalí (1970) 

“What I was trying to show was my reaction to this dramatic suspense. The situation that you get of a tension between people, and something about an impending disaster. There’s a drama in silence more than in shouting.” Henry Moore on the bomb shelter drawings that made him a household name (1978) 

“I feel at home here in this chaos. Chaos suggests images to me. I just love living in chaos because, after all what is art about? It is trying to make something out of the chaos of existence.” Francis Bacon, in his studio (1987) 

“I continue to get further away from the usual artists’ tools; easel, palette, brushes. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint. My feeling is new needs need new techniques. It seems to me the modern painter cannot express this age – the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio – in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture.” Jackson Pollock on his drip paintings (1950) 

“This is The Love Wall. It’s like a love shop really. All the postcards are in the windows. When I did this picture, people said, 'Why do you stick the things on, why don’t you paint them?'. And when I do paint them, they say, 'Why did you bother to paint them, why didn’t you stick them on.' You just can’t win." Peter Blake, Monitor (1972) 

"I’ve never really found [painting] easy. But you don’t want to find it easy. Often you deliberately make things difficult for yourself. I could paint 10 pictures of swimming pools, make it look rather nice. But I don’t want to do that, it would bore me. I don’t mind boring you, but I don’t want to bore myself.” David Hockney (1981) 

“It’s dealing with the images that have come about in the commercial world and using that because there are certain things about it which are impressive or bold… It is not saying that commercial art is terrible, or 'Oh, look what we’ve come to.' That may be a sociological fact, but that’s not what this art is about.” Roy Lichtenstein (1968) 

“I would hope my work would be able to convey the same sense of serene order that, let’s say, a fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach can give… The marks that I’ve made on canvas or paper have never been convincing to me in the same way as moving a timber or brick from one side of the room to the other ” Carl Andre, Arena (1976) 

“I use anger, it is a raw emotion. It is my way of defending myself… In order to liberate myself from the past I have to reconstruct it, ponder about it, make a statue of it and get rid of it through making sculpture.” Louise Bourgeois, Arena (1994) 

"If you are painting humans you’ve got the best subject matter in the world, and you can really do as much with them as they could do themselves. When I’m not painting them –- which is rare – I feel I’m being pretty frivolous.” Lucian Freud (1988) 

"For me pictures are better equivalents to feelings. There are things that you cannot express in words, which you don’t even know what they are, really.” Paula Rego 

La Pompadour by Boucher

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour ( December 29 1721 –  April 15 1764,) was a member of the French court and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death.

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, otherwise known as Reinette ("little queen") to her friends, was born on 29 December 1721 in Paris to François Poisson (1684–1754) and his wife Madeleine de La Motte (1699–1745). However, it is suspected that her biological father was either the rich financier Pâris de Montmartel or the tax collector (fermier général) Le Normant de Tournehem.

 Le Normant de Tournehem became her legal guardian when François Poisson was forced to leave the country in 1725 after a scandal over a series of unpaid debts, a crime at that time punishable by death. (He was cleared eight years later and allowed to return to France.) Her younger brother was Abel-François Poisson de Vandières, who would later become the marquis de Marigny.

Jeanne Antoinette was intelligent, beautiful and refined. She spent her younger childhood at the Ursuline convent in Poissy where she received a good education. At adolescence, her mother took personal charge of her education at home by hiring tutors who taught her to recite entire plays by heart, play the clavichord, dance, sing, paint and engrave. She became an accomplished actress and singer, and also attended Paris's Club de l'Entresol (formed in 1724 and suppressed in 1731). The greatest expense of her education was undoubtedly the employment of renowned singers and actors, such as Pierre Jélyotte, much of it paid for by Le Normant de Tournehem; and it may have been this in particular that sparked rumours of his paternity to Jeanne Antoinette.

She later claimed that, at the age of nine, she was taken by her mother to a fortune teller and told that she would someday reign over the heart of a king. Apparently, her mother believed the prophecy and accordingly nicknamed her "Reinette" (meaning "little queen").
At the age of nineteen, Jeanne Antoinette was married to Charles-Guillaume Le Normant d'Étiolles, nephew of her guardian, who accepted the match and the large financial incentives that came with it. These included the estate at Étiolles (28 km south of Paris), a wedding gift from her guardian, which was situated on the edge of the royal hunting ground of the forest of Sénart. With her husband, she had two children, a boy who died a year after his birth in 1741 and Alexandrine-Jeanne (nicknamed "Fanfan"), born August 10, 1744.

 Contemporary opinion supported by artwork from the time considered the young Mme d'Étiolles to be quite beautiful, with her small mouth and oval face enlivened by her wit. Her young husband was soon infatuated with her and she was celebrated in the fashionable world of Paris. She founded her own salon, at Étiolles, and was joined by many philosophes, among them Voltaire.
As Mme d'Étiolles became known in society, King Louis XV came to hear of her. In 1745, a group of courtiers, including her father-in-law, promoted her acquaintance with the monarch, who was still mourning the death of his third official mistress, the duchesse de Châteauroux.

Jeanne Antoinette was invited to a royal masked ball at the Palace of Versailles on the night of 25 to 26 February 1745, one of the many fêtes given to celebrate the marriage of the Dauphin Louis de France (1729–65) to the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain (1726–46). By March, she was the king's mistress, installed at Versailles in an apartment directly below his. On 7 May, the official separation between her and her husband was pronounced.
To be presented at court, she required a title. The king purchased the marquisate of Pompadour on 24 June and gave the estate, with title and coat-of-arms, to Jeanne Antoinette, making her a Marquise. On 14 September, she was formally introduced to the court by the king's cousin, the Princess de Conti. She quickly mastered the highly-mannered court etiquette. Her mother died on Christmas Day of the same year, and did not live to see her daughter's achievement at becoming the undisputed royal mistress.

Madame de Pompadour suffered two miscarriages in 1746 and 1749, and she is said to have arranged lesser mistresses for the King's pleasure to replace herself. Although they had ceased being lovers after 1750, they remained friends, and Louis XV was devoted to her until her death from tuberculosis in 1764 at the age of forty-two. Even her enemies admired her courage during the final painful weeks. Voltaire wrote: "I am very sad at the death of Madame de Pompadour. I was indebted to her and I mourn her out of gratitude. It seems absurd that while an ancient pen-pusher, hardly able to walk, should still be alive, a beautiful woman, in the midst of a splendid career, should die at the age of forty two." Yet, at the time of her death, many enemies were greatly relieved and she was publicly blamed for the Seven Years' War. Looking at the rain during the departure of his mistress' coffin from Versailles, the King reportedly said: "La marquise n'aura pas de beau temps pour son voyage." ("The marquise won't have good weather for her journey.")


Madame de Pompadour, also by 

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François Boucher

François Boucher  (September 29 1703 –  May 30 1770) was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture. He was perhaps the most celebrated decorative artist of the 18th century. He also painted several portraits of his illustrious patroness, Madame de Pompadour.  Boucher is famous for saying that nature is "trop verte et mal éclairée" (too green and badly lit).


Rococo  less commonly roccoco, also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century artistic movement and style, which affected several aspects of the arts including painting, sculpture, architecture, interior design, decoration, literature, music and theatre. The Rococo developed in the early part of the 18th century in Paris, France as a reaction against the grandeur, symmetry and strict regulations of the Baroque, especially that of the Palace of Versailles.

 In such a way, Rococo artists opted for a more jocular, florid and graceful approach to Baroque art and architecture. Rococo art and architecture in such a way was ornate and made strong usage of creamy, pastel-like colors, asymmetrical designs, curves and gold. Unlike the more politically focused Baroque, the Rococo had more playful and often witty artistic themes. 

With regards to interior decoration, Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings. The Rococo additionally played an important role in theatre. In the book The Rococo, it is written that there was no other culture which "has produced a wittier, more elegant, and teasing dialogue full of elusive and camouflaging language and gestures, refined feelings and subtle criticism" than Rococo theatre, especially that of France.Towards the end of the 18th century, Rococo started to fall out of fashion, and it was largely supplanted by the Neoclassic style.

Man and Owl

The Grand Manner (The Grand Style)

Grand Manner refers to an idealized aesthetic style derived from classical art, and the modern "classic art" of the High Renaissance. In the eighteenth century, British artists and connoisseurs used the term to describe paintings that incorporated visual metaphors in order to suggest noble qualities

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The age of innocence, Reynolds

The Age of Innocence is an oil on canvas picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, painted in either 1785 or 1788. The sitter is unknown, but was possibly Reynolds's great-niece Theophila Gwatkin (who was three in 1785), or Lady Anne Spencer (1773-1865), the youngest daughter of the 4th Duke of Marlborough.

 The picture is a character study, or, in 18th-century terms, a fancy picture, and was painted over another Reynolds work, A Strawberry Girl, perhaps because Strawberry had suffered some paint losses. Only the hands remain in their original state. 

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The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (also known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member "brotherhood".

The group's intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite". In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called "Sir Sloshua". To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, "sloshy" meant "anything lax or scamped in the process of painting ... and hence ... any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind". In contrast, the brotherhood wanted a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art.

Through the PRB initials, the brotherhood announced in coded form the arrival of a new movement in British art The group continued to accept the concepts of history painting and mimesis, imitation of nature, as central to the purpose of art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform-movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The group's debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal.

The Last of England by Ford Madox Brown

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The Last of England is an 1855 oil-on-panel painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting two emigrants leaving England to start a new life abroad.

 Brown began the painting in 1852 inspired by the departure of his close friend, the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor, Thomas Woolner, who had left for Australia in July of that year. Emigration from England was at a peak, with over 350,000 people leaving that year. Brown, who at the time considered himself "very hard up and a little mad", was himself thinking of moving to India with his new family.

Although Ford Madox Brown was never a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, The Last of England, like many of his paintings, exhibits all the characteristics of the movement. The painting depicts a man and his wife seeing England for the last time. The two main figures, based on Brown and his wife, Emma, stare ahead, stony-faced, ignoring the white cliffs of Dover which can be seen disappearing behind in the top right of the picture. The clothing indicates that family are middle class, so are not leaving for the reasons that would force the emigration of the working classes; Brown's writing touched on the same theme:

The educated are bound to their country by quite other ties than the illiterate man, whose chief consideration is food and physical comfort

The fair-haired child in the background behind the man's shoulder is Brown and Emma's child, Catherine, who was born in 1850. The hand of the baby, which can be seen clasped by the woman, is supposedly that of their second child, Oliver.

In order to mirror the harsh conditions in the painting Brown worked mostly outside in his garden, and was happy when the weather was poor — he recorded his feelings of delight when the cold turned his hand blue, as this was how he wanted it to appear in the painting. He was seen as strange by his neighbours who saw him out in all kinds of weather. He composed a short verse to accompany the painting in which the woman is depicted as hopeful for the future:

...She grips his listless hand and clasps her child,
 Through rainbow tears she sees a sunnier gleam,
 She cannot see a void where he will be.

Brown's painting room was above a china shop at 33 High Street, Hampstead and sittings took place in the house's garden. His diary noted that the '...ribbons of the bonnet took me 4 weeks to paint'. The picture was voted Britain's eighth-favorite picture in a poll carried out by BBC Radio

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Brown (Above) and his known piece "Work" 

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Dante and beatrice by Henry Holiday

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Henry Holiday (17 June 1839 – 15 April 1927) was an English historical genre and landscape painter, stained glass designer, illustrator and sculptor. He is considered to be a member of the Pre-Raphaelite school of art. Holiday also did some sculpture, in 1861 producing a piece called "Sleep" which attracted favourable critical interest.
In 1867, Holiday visited Italy for the first time and was inspired by the originality of the Renaissance artists he saw on display there.  In 1871 he went to Ceylon as part of the " Eclipse Expedition". His astronomical drawings were subsequently published in the national press and attracted great interest.
In January 1874, Holiday was commissioned by Lewis Carroll to illustrate The Hunting of the Snark. He remained friends with the author throughout his life.  Holiday had been a socialist throughout his life and, together with his wife Kate and daughter Winifred, supported the Suffragette movement. The family were close acquaintances of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter, and had organised local suffragette meetings in the Lake District.
Holiday died on 15 April 1927.  Dante and Beatrice is a painting dated 1884 and is on display in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England. It is considered to be Holiday's most important painting.  It is executed in oil on canvas, measuring 142.2 centimetres (56 in) by 203.2 centimetres (80 in) and was purchased by the gallery in 1884.
When he died, Holiday was described as "the last Pre-Raphaelite". Many of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's paintings, including Dante's Dream, had as their subject the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, and this interest is the likely inspiration for Holiday's painting.
 It is based on Dante's autobiographical work La Vita Nuova which describes his love for Beatrice Portinari. Dante concealed his love by pretending to be attracted to other women. The painting depicts an incident when Beatrice, having heard gossip relating to this, refuses to speak to him. The event is shown as Beatrice and two other women walk past the Santa Trinità Bridge in Florence. Beatrice wears a white dress and walks beside her friend Monna Vanna, with Beatrice's maidservant slightly behind.
In 1860 Holiday had painted another scene from La Vita Nuova which showed a meeting between Dante and Beatrice when they were children in the garden of Beatrice's father, and in 1875 he painted a portrait of Dante. In addition to the completed painting of Dante and Beatrice, the Walker Art Gallery owns three sketches he made for it. Two of these depict all the figures, while the third is of Dante alone. Holiday had also made nude plaster statuettes of the two main female figures to which he later added clothing. These are also owned by the gallery. The model for Beatrice was Eleanor Butcher, Milly Hughes modelled for Monna Vanna, and the model for the maidservant was Kitty Lushington.
Holliday was anxious that the painting should be historically accurate and in 1881 travelled to Florence to carry out research. He discovered that in the 13th century the Lungarno, the street on the north side of the River Arno between the Ponte Vecchio (seen in the background) and the Ponte Santa Trinita, was paved with bricks and that there were shops in the area; these are shown in the painting. He also learnt that the Ponte Vecchio had been destroyed in a flood in 1235. It was being rebuilt between 1285 and 1290 and in the painting it is shown covered in scaffolding.

Crossing the Brook by William (Mallord William) Turner

This painting is the culmination of Turner’s studies of Devon, which he visited in 1811 and 1813. His watercolours and drawings of the area were remarkably fresh and informal. Here, however, he creates a more monumental and self-consciously artful image in the mould of the seventeenth-century classical landscape painter, Claude Lorrain. Even so, contemporaries recognized that the scene was intended to show a particular place: the Tamar valley. This painting was exhibited in the year of the battle of Waterloo. It would have been hard to avoid the patriotic subtext of such a grandly ambitious depiction of the national landscape

Joseph Mallord William "J. M. W." Turner, RA (baptised 14 May 1775[a] – 19 December 1851) was a British Romantic landscape painter, water-colourist, and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting.

 Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light" and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.

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Joseph Mallord William Turner (above) was baptised on 14 May 1775, but his date of birth is unknown. It is generally believed he was born between late April and early May. Turner himself claimed he was born on 23 April, but there is no proof of this.[a] He was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, England.

His father, William Turner (1745–21 September 1829), was a barber and wig maker, His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of butchers. A younger sister, Mary Ann, was born in September 1778 but died aged four in August 1783.

 Drawing of St John's Church, Margate by Turner from around 1786, when he would have been 11 or 12 years old. The ambitious but unsure drawing shows an early struggle with perspective, which can be contrasted with his later work

A View of the Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth – this watercolour was Turner's first to be accepted for the Royal Academy's annual exhibition in April 1790, the month he turned fifteen. The image is a technical presentation of Turner's strong grasp of the elements of perspective with several buildings at sharp angles to each other, demonstrating Turner's thorough mastery of Thomas Malton's topographical style.

In 1785, as a result of a "fit of illness" in the family the young Turner was sent to stay with his maternal uncle, Joseph Mallord William Marshall, in Brentford, then a small town on the banks of the River Thames west of London. From this period, the earliest known artistic exercise by Turner is found, a series of simple colourings of engraved plates from Henry Boswell's Picturesque View of the Antiquities of England and Wales.

 Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate on the north-east Kent coast. Here he produced a series of drawings of the town and surrounding area foreshadowing his later work. Turner returned to Margate many times in later life.

 By this time, Turner's drawings were being exhibited in his father's shop window and sold for a few shillings. His father boasted to the artist Thomas Stothard that: "My son, sir, is going to be a painter". In 1789 Turner again stayed with his uncle, who had retired to Sunningwell in Oxford. A whole sketchbook of work from this time in Oxford survives, as well as a watercolour of Oxford. The use of pencil sketches on location as a basis for later finished paintings formed the basis of Turner's essential working style for his whole career.
 Many early sketches by Turner were architectural studies and/or exercises in perspective and it is known that as a young man he worked for several architects including Thomas Hardwick (junior), James Wyatt and Joseph Bonomi the Elder.

 By the end of 1789 he had also begun to study under the topographical draughtsman Thomas Malton, whom Turner would later call "My real master". He entered the Royal Academy of Art schools in 1789, when he was 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to continue painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick. His first watercolour painting A View of the Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth was accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition of 1790 when Turner was 15.

 As a probationer in the academy, he was taught drawing from plaster casts of antique sculptures and his name appears in the registry of the academy over a hundred times from July 1790 to October 1793. In June 1792 he was admitted to the life class to learn to draw the human body from nude models.

 Turner exhibited watercolours each year at the academy – travelling in the summer and painting in the winter. He travelled widely throughout Britain, particularly to Wales, and produced a wide range of sketches for working up into studies and watercolours. These particularly focused on architectural work, which utilised his skills as a draughtsman.
 In 1793, he showed a watercolour titled The Rising Squall – Hot Wells from St Vincent's Rock Bristol (now lost) that foreshadowed his later climatic effects.

 Cunningham in his obituary of Turner wrote that it was: "recognised by the wiser few as a nobel attempt at lift in landscape art out of the tame insipidities...[and] evinced for the fist time that mastery of effect for which he is now justly celebrated."

 Turner exhibited his first oil painting at the academy in 1796, Fishermen at Sea: a nocturnal moonlit scene off The Needles, Isle of Wight. The image of boats in peril contrasts the cold light of the moon with the firelight glow of the fishermen's lantern.

 Wilton said that the image: "Is a summary of all that had been said about the sea by the artists of the eighteenth century." and shows strong influence by artists such as Horace Vernet, Philip James de Loutherbourg, Peter Monamy and Francis Swaine, who was admired for his moonlight marine paintings. This particular painting cannot be said to show any influence of Willem van de Velde the Younger, as not a single nocturnal scene is known by that painter. Some later work, however, as shown below, was created to rival or complement the manner of the Dutch artist. The image was praised by contemporary critics and founded Turner's reputation, both as an oil painter and as a painter of maritime scenes.
Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in The Louvre in Paris in the same year. He made many visits to Venice. On a visit to Lyme Regis, in Dorset he painted a stormy scene (now in the Cincinnati Art Museum).
 Important support for his work came from Walter Ramsden Fawkes, of Farnley Hall, near Otley in Yorkshire, who became a close friend of the artist. Turner first visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolours of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned to it throughout his career. The stormy backdrop of Hannibal Crossing The Alps is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over the Chevin in Otley while he was staying at Farnley Hall.

 Turner was a frequent guest of George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont at Petworth House in West Sussex and painted scenes that Egremont funded taken from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside, including a view of the Chichester Canal. Petworth House still displays a number of paintings.

 As Turner grew older, he became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for 30 years and worked as his studio assistant. His father's death in 1829 had a profound effect, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression. He never married but had a relationship with an older widow, Sarah Danby. He is believed to have been the father of her two daughters born in 1801 and 1811.

Turner died in the house of his mistress Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea on 19 December 1851. He is said to have uttered the last words "The sun is God" before expiring. At his request he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.

 Turner's friend, architect Philip Hardwick (1792–1870), son of his tutor, Thomas Hardwick, was in charge of making the funeral arrangements and wrote to those who knew Turner to tell them at the time of his death that, "I must inform you, we have lost him." Other executors were his cousin and chief mourner at the funeral, Henry Harpur IV (benefactor of Westminster – now Chelsea & Westminster – Hospital), Revd. Henry Scott Trimmer, George Jones RA and Charles Turner ARA.