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Turner on both sides of the Atlantic

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Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight, 1835, oil on canvas
JMW Turner, National Gallery of Art

What a character he was - getting sailors to tie him to a mast so he could appreciate a storm; bringing his paints and brushes into Royal Academy exhibitions for dramatic, last-minute touch-ups. Dissatisfied with a pearl-grey and misty scene, and wanting to liven it up, he supposedly painted in a large and startling orange buoy, which was still wet when the exhibit opened.

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Indomitable!

He might as well have shot a gun at my painting, groaned Constable, whose work was displayed nearby.

An exhibition of Joseph Mallord William Turner's watercolours can be seen at the Tate until 3 February. In America, a show of Turner's watercolours and paintings opened at the National Gallery in Washington, DC (1 October - 6 January 2008) and will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art this spring and to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art next summer.

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