“If Turner were alive today, he’d be launching himself into space.”

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The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage at Mâcon, JMW Turner, 1803

My Arts Catalyst colleague, curator Rob La Frenais, made a really excellent contribution to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, while I was out in Rwanda, discussing with Turner’s biographer James Hamilton to what extent science influences art past and present in the context of the forthcoming exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, Turner and the Elements.

Hamilton, in his essay for the exhibition catalogue, claims that Turner’s painting The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage at Mâcon (1803), which is dominated by a ferocious sun, was painted in an entirely new and revolutionary way, based on scientific theories expounded by the astronomer Sir William Herschel, who revealed to the Royal Society in 1801 his discovery that the sun had a surface with “openings, shallows, ridges, nodules, corrugations, indentations and pores”.

Listen again to the Radio 4 feature here – http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9639000/9639943.stm

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