painting a strong sensation of nature and the

painting a strong sensation of nature and the

painting of TurnerSimilarities between the music of Debussy and the painting of TurnerThe music of Claude Debussy and the painting of J.

M.W. Turner are, in most people’s minds, two entirely different things. However, each man was considered the founder of impressionism in his own artform. Impressionism was a movement in late 19th century European art, which was a reflection of the realizations in physics about the properties of light.

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Turner’s atmospheric paintings and Debussy’s tone poems, although different forms of expression, are interesting to historians in their similarities of color, subject, and atmosphere.Turner often applied the colors in order, separately and unmixed, thus allowing the viewer to interpret the image optically. For example, in his piece “Sunset over a Ruined Castle on a Cliff”, all seven colors of the spectrum were painted on one by one, creating a stunning brilliance and intensity. By using bands of individual color an expressive scene of diffused light is lent a strong sensation of nature and the landscape. Ruskin has said of Turner, “he would never give a quarter of an inch of canvas without a change in it, a melody as well as a harmony of one kind or another.” This interests historians because Turner was one of the first artists to use this color-layering technique.

In music, the analogy to color is harmonics. Debussy’s use of harmonics, and therefore color, was to allow dissonance in his music, and to let the listener resolve the harmonies for herself. Also, by permitting chords to flow freely from a tonal center, Debussy would suggest the same glow and brilliance as Turner did in his paintings.

Debussy is known to have said, “We are not concerned with the form of the nocturne, but everything that this word includes in the way of diversified impression and special lights.” This is of interest to historians because, like Turner, Debussy broke the mold of classical form in the creation of his exotic melodies. Turner’s paintings depicted things like foggy mornings, or the haze made by fire, or just the sky. His canvases were dominated by large expanses of sky filled with clouds, haze, and smoke, or reflections on water and storms at sea. By choosing to paint clouds and water, he separated himself from the classical artists, as these sensual and emotional depictions of light and color were considered to be sketchy and unfinished, not conforming to the concrete realism of the classical style.Debussy’s pieces were often about moods, or poetic descriptions of scenes, such as moonlight on a still lake or the sound of rain falling in a garden. For instance, he would invoke a mood of the ocean by creating a series of musical vibrations filled with nuances, clashing sonorities, murmuring or lamenting sounds which people connect with the sea.

Another example is the piece entitled “Nuages” (clouds), for which Debussy’s introduction reads, “Nuages renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion of the clouds, fading away in grey tones tinged with white.” The atmosphere in Turner’s works was filled with light. In fact, atmosphere was the main theme in most of Turner’s paintings. His brushwork was free and light, capturing the nuances of change in shade and tone, as in his painting, “Bellinzona–Bridge Over the Ticino”. He would also use short, distinct strokes to set up a staccato rhythm, much like the melodies of Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun”. Often his paintings showed an evanescent and airy quality created by his fine use of watercolor or oils.In music written by Debussy, atmosphere was created by strange harmonies, intangible melodic formulas, chordal parallelism, and seductive dissonances.

For example, in the haunting “La Mer” (the sea), emotion comes from the unstable equilibrium found in the relation established between the instruments of the orchestra. Another example of this, a work entitled “Ftes” (festival), portrays restless dancing rhythms, interspersed with sudden flashes of light. A procession passes through the festive scene and becomes emerged in it. But the background remains persistently the same: the festival, a bright and joyous occasion.In conclusion, the similarities between J.M.

W. Turner’s art and Claude Debussy’s tone poems are many and clear. Their subject matter is nearly identical, and although their means of expressing themselves are different, the results have the same quality and feeling. Both are evocative of mood and emotion, and each work holds its own sense of time and place. Many historians enjoy pondering the similarities of Turner’s paintings and Debussy’s music. They are still fascinated and do not yet completely understand it.Words/ Pages : 752 / 24

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