Joseph M. W. Turner was born in London, England in 1775. Unlike many artists of his time, he was successful from a very young age, exhibiting for the first time when he was still a teenager. Except for the study of art, he never received any formal education and by the age of 13,he was making drawings at home to sell in the windows of his father’s shop. When Turner was only 15, one of his paintings was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and by the time he reached the age of eighteen, he had established his own studio. Print sellers eagerly began buying his drawings for reproduction.
Turner became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1802 and began traveling widely in Europe. Some of his finest work was inspired by his visit to Venice.
As he aged, Turner became something of an eccentric, having little or no friends. He stopped attending the meetings of the academy and he was increasingly absent in the public eye. Although still participating in exhibitions, he usually refused to sell his paintings. When persuaded to part with one, he would remain dejected for days.
Turner exhibited for the last time in 1850 and soon after, he disappeared from his home. His housekeeper searched for him and after many months, found him hiding in a home in Chelsea. He died one day after being found in 1851.