The Thames was essential to Turner. What would he have made of the pageant?
About 10 days ago, Anneka Rice was standing on the Millennium Bridge in London for the BBC, cheerleading a collection of sodden artists as they paid homage to both the Queen and Canaletto, while the Thames diamond jubilee pageant passed beneath them. "Wow," she said, "that looks just like a Monet!" as one embarrassed painter reluctantly revealed a ruined canvas on which the rain had made all the colours run into each other.
Watching Turner's Thames (BBC4) I was relieved to be instructed by art critic Matthew Collings rather than Anneka, and was left wondering just what Turner would have made of the pageant. When the Houses of Parliament caught fire in 1834, the great British artist's immediate response was to hire a boat so he could make a series of watercolour sketches close-up: he then turned himself »
- John Crace
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