Photography had not yet been invented when the British painter J. M. William Turner (1775–1851) created his painting »Fishermen at Sea« in 1796, where he depicts a nightly scenery at a tempestuous sea, which is lit by the full moon midst heavy clouds. This painting was the first exhibited oil painting by the then 21 year-old Turner and marked the beginning of a great career.
Shortly afterwards, he was accepted into the Royal Academy and rose next to his contemporary John Constable (1776–1837), to one of the leading landscape painters of his time. His success brought Turner financial independence and freedom in his artistic endeavours – a circumstance that only a few painters are able to claim for themselves, today.
William Turner is regarded as the representative of romantic painting, however, it is noticeable, particularly in his later works, how his style developed towards more free forms and light and colour areas, which made him to be a forerunner of impressionism. Turner painted already impressionistically when the French impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926) had just seen the light of day (opposite Turner’s painting »Norma Castle, Sunrise« from 1845).
Maybe William Turner – the pioneer of the moments of light – owes his fame to the full moon light, which may have inspired him in his younger years to create this full moon painting.