This dramatic almost abstract scene of an avalanche was initially exhibited in 1810. Turner visited the alps in 1802 but there is no evidence that he visited this area or witnessed an avalanche. It is supposed that inspiration for this painting was news of an avalanche at Selva in 1808 which killed 25 people.
Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons
90.2 x 120 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 90.2 x 120 cm
Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London; he remained a Londoner and kept a Cockney accent all his life despite dominating British landscape painting throughout the first half of the 19th century. He established a reputation in the Royal Academy, first as a topographical watercolourist and then within a few years as a painter of sublime and historical landscapes. From the mid-1790s he settled on the routine he maintained for much of his life: touring in summer and working in the studio in the winter months. He opened his own gallery and had many patrons and admirers as well as detractors. After his death a large body of his works in oil and watercolour was given to the British nation, with many on show at Tate Britain.