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Barry Venning wrote the study of JMW Turner in Phaidon's highly respected Art and Ideas series. He has also published an introduction to the work of John Constable (Constable, Parkstone Press).

Turner, Art and Ideas

'Accessible and engagingly written ... Venning conveys very well indeed the visual curiosity and intellectual fizz we now associate with the artist ...  The general reader will find here a lucid and persuasive narrative that renders comprehensible Turner's sometimes bewildering achievement. Students and Turner scholars alike can likewise turn to Venning's book not merely for its intelligent survey of Turner, but also for its fresh insights into the British art world in which he made his career, as well as valuable comments on the political and cultural context for his paintings and his posthumous reputation. (Sam Smiles, Professor of Art History & Visual Cuture, University of Exeter)

'This lively, prolifically illustrated survey illuminates the career of Britain's greatest artist in a host of ways. Deftly sketching in the political, social and artistic background to his career, Venning notes how Turner's humble origins made him far more receptive to radicalism than the country gentleman, Constable. Thackeray was telling the truth when he wrote of Rain, Steam and Speed: 'the world has never seen anything like this picture.' Mark Rothko acknowledged his debt in a joke: 'This man Turner, he learnt a lot from me.'" (Independent on Saturday Magazine)

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