J.M.W. Turner, Before They Turn Out the Lights on DMA Exhibit on Sunday

Joseph Mallord William Turner's Battle of Trafalgar
Joseph Mallord William Turner's Battle of Trafalgar
Joseph Mallord William Turner's Battle of Trafalgar

There’s only a few days left to catch the biggest-ever J.M.W. Turner exhibit, on display at the Dallas Museum of Art till SundayMay 25. And even if landscapes don’t sound sexy to you, you’d best check it out.

Not only was Turner one of Britain’s greatest painters, Tennyson called him “the Shakespeare of landscape.” It’s not hard to see why when you survey his massive canvasses in the DMA’s J.E.R. Chilton galleries. The work’s scope, lighting and perspective are as rare and lifelike as they are moving.

In Fisherman at Sea, boats rock in rolling squalls under a moonlit sky. Stare for longer than a minute, and you’ll find yourself with sea legs. Through pieces like The Shipwreck, with their size and movement and light pouring from shifting clouds, Turner was able to convey a profound sense of atmosphere and awe, which the exhibition’s narrative refers to as transcendence.

Other pieces -- such as The Pass of Saint Goddard, in which a man kneels alongside a cross on the edge of a vast chasm, evoke man’s insignificance in the face of nature. Yet there are also historical and mythical scenes, like the grisly Battle of Trafalgar and my personal favorite, a depiction of the Odyssey complete with translucent spirits swirling around the ship. Quick, now’s your last chance, though: Once it closes Sunday, the show moves on to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for the last of just three stateside stops. --Megan Feldman


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