"The work of Joseph Mallard William Turner represents a unique phenomenon in the history of painting: the successive achievement of two diametrically opposed styles of expression, implying a radical transformation of the sense of perception, the first style based on the continuation of an esthetic past, the second providing an example of a vision whose revolutionary power would be revealed in the time to come" (Selz 5). Looking at Turner's early work and then looking at his later work is like looking at two very different artists. Turner was accepted as a " technical revolutionary, as a prophetic visionary. Certainly he anticipated much in twentieth century painting, from impressionism to abstract color experimentation" (Lindsay front page). His work spans many years and changes from very classical landscapes to landscapes that make the eye travel through with the use of light and color to express emotion and feeling. .
Turner was born in London on April 23, 1775. He was the son of a barber and came from humble beginnings. His mother died when he was very young. He started drawing when he was very young; some of his drawings were done at twelve years old. He learned to draw by coping work others. By the time he was fourteen, he began the practise he continued all his life. He would travel during the summer months notes his way through the English countryside and through Europe. He would make notes from nature in pencil or watercolor, which he used afterward as material for his paintings. His main source of influence and encouragement, in his early years, came from Dr. Munro, who used to invite Turner, Girtin, and other young artists to his house and he would allow them to copy his collection of watercolors by J.R. Cozens (Chamot 5). .
Early on Turner revealed, through his works "Fisherman at Sea" and "Moonlight: a Study of Millbank," that he had a sensitive eye for color, even in dark night scenes.