Turner’s Thames

Presenter and art critic Matthew Collings explores how Turner makes light the vehicle of feeling in his work, and how he found inspiration for that feeling in the waters of the river Thames. Throughout a lifetime of travel, Turner returned time and again to paint and draw scenes of the river Thames, the lifeblood of London.

This documentary reveals the Thames in all its diverse glory, from its beauty in west London, to its heartland in the City of London and its former docks, out to the vast emptiness and drama of the Thames estuary near Margate. Many of Turner’s paintings are regularly celebrated as the nation’s greatest art. This film reveals for the first time on television a key inspiration for that modernity and celebrity; a stretch of water of immense importance to the nation in the early 19th century but which today is often taken for granted – the river Thames.