Joseph Mallord William Turner
In 1824, Turner was commissioned to produce 120 designs for a series of topographical engravings, Picturesque Views in England and Wales. Such series were popular in Britain and they provided a steady source of income for the artist.
Colchester, Essex is one of his most striking compositions for the project, and shows the artist grappling with the challenges of producing watercolours that could be successfully translated into black-and-white engravings. He developed a technique of layering careful finishes of stippling over colour washes, especially visible at the lower right edge, with some areas of wash carefully scraped away to serve as highlights. This allowed him to capture both fine detail and elusive atmospheric effects, such as the reflection of a sunbeam on the river at left and the smoke rising from the chimneys of the houses at right.
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