J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), widely known as perhaps the most eminent landscape painter of the romantic era, considered himself particularly a painter of historical landscapes. His distinctive landscapes were often enriched with symbolism and allegory that set them apart from those of his artist contemporaries and mystified his audiences. "Angel in the Sun" is an unconventional study of the richness and complexity of Turner's vision of history as revealed through his drawings and paintings. Turner was deeply affected by the world in which he lived, the sciences that explained it, and the conflicts and accomplishments of his society. He wove these strands into the dense fabric of the historical pictures he created, pictures that were extremely varied, complex, original, and controversial. In "Angel in the Sun", Gerald Finley untangles the various thematic strands running through Turner's art, including the intersection of private and public histories, classical and biblical history and contemporary events, and science and religion, and shows how Turner's use of light and colour played an important role in conveying these ideas.
"Angel in the Sun" includes over 130 illustrations in colour, and black and white, that reveal Turner's remarkable achievement as a painter of historical subjects. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the book will appeal not only to art historians and landscape theorists but also to historians of science and literature. Gerald Finley, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is professor emeritus of art history, Queen's University. His other books include "Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott" and "George Heriot: Postmaster Painter of the Canadas".