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Dear JMW,
I still remember the first time we met. It was at the Tate Britain. I used the Tate Britain as an escape from my daily routine. Museums are completely free in London, and spending five short minutes there somehow lifted my spirit. I saw your face, I saw your eyes, and I admired your paintings. They instantly made me feel in a vortex of emotions. It was as if we had already met. We simply were long-lost soul mates, and I instantly recognised you.
Turner, Self Portrait

I have never opened my heart like this, and I feel utterly ridiculous to do so. To make matters even worse, I was brought up worshipping the impressionists, but here it is:
I love you, and only you.


Nympheas, Claude Monet
The “Nympheas” can go back to where they came from.  I know that it may sound like a betrayal of my home country, but all is fair in love, right? Since I found you, everything else seems pale anyway. And thanks to you, the London sky looks brighter. When I was younger, I was convinced that clouds were something that you would look at when in love. You proved me right. Love and light play hide and seek in the clouds.

Wreckers Coast Of Northumberland, Turner

I know that it is an impossible love, because you died in 1851. I will never meet you. Come to think of it, it is really sad. That said, even if we had met, I don’t think that you would have warmed up to me, or to my French accent. All I could have hoped would have been to come second best, after your art. What can I say? We ‘met’ at the wrong time. And I don’t think that there was much space for love in your heart anyway, you were far too busy travelling and painting.
I started visiting your collection every day, after work. I was travelling with you in the British countryside, in Venice, and looking at your eyes. Ah, your deep, impenetrable eyes! Realising that I was falling for a dead British artist didn’t deter me from coming back. My days were always happier when I was supposed to meet you.  It was a date, and you had called me back.
Eventually it dawned on me that this love was a huge gift. Impossible love doesn’t have to be sad, right? Meeting you had simply changed my life for the better. Of course, I would have liked to have more, but, well, it was not possible. Such is life. We will never be together, but somehow you have made me feel more alive, and also calmer. I was so scared to be in a foreign country. I thought that I would never fit in. You helped me, you showed me where the beauty really lies. You proved me that a ray of light can change everything.

Shipping O The Maas, Aelbert Cuyp

I have moved on of course, because thanks to you I could finally appreciate a type of art that I didn’t know existed before. Today I even went to the Wallace Collection. Despite the fact that I have never been a huge fan of the Dutch school, thanks to you I could appreciate Aelbert Cuyp, because it reminded me of your technique.
Love never dies. Falling in love is always worth it, because it makes the heart feel lighter. Yes, I will always love you. And I will visit you again from time to time. It will be our little secret, and we will be together again. Nobody can prevent me from dreaming of  you and your immense talent.
Yours, always,
Me

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Perhaps you should enlist a spiritualist to try to make contact for you? I’m not saying that as a joke. Anyway, nice tribute and I love that you can visit a museum for free. There’s lots of times I didn’t go into one because I knew I couldn’t spend the amount of time there to justify the admission. Nice.

    • That’s the beauty of London, you can go to any museum just for a few minutes. Pure bliss…

  • A lovely letter to a very talented artist. If only all artists knew how much joy they spread and how they positively influence people. Sadly, many are not appreciated until after they have passed.

    • Thank you, Suerae. he was indeed very talented. Somehow, I can’t find another painter as talented as him.

  • Love Turner as well but more as a distant admirer. (My mother had a love affair with Lord Byron but so did a lot of other women.) I still have to feel the vibrant awakening that you describe so well here. Only you can pull off a piece that is wistful, cliche romantic, and a sly poke at the deep feelings that Turner paintings evoke in you. By the way, do you know his first name?

    • A love affair with Lord Byron? So romantic… And yes, we are on a first name basis with Turner. It is our little secret, you see.

  • Art is the best lover. It never talks back to you!

    • Well, I beg to differ, Roy, Turner’s art totally talk to me! There must be something wrong with me.

  • You have not betrayed the Impressionists! Turner was a very controversial artist in his day abandoning the classical and figurative style. His work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism. Some of his works are cited as examples of abstract art prior to its recognition in the early twentieth century. The first impressionist painting which gave its name to the Movement was “Sunrise, an impression” Claude Monet “Impression, soleil levant” and the term was used as an insult by the critics. Turner was obsessed by the Sun and depicting the luminosity it produced in the sky, particularly in 1816 when the amount of ash in the atmosphere produced spectacular sunsets. My favourite Turner paintings are not the “spectaculars” but the Watercolours in the Vaughan Collection which are exhibited only in January in the National Galleries of England, Scotland and Ireland to preserver their colour. Many of his oils have faded as he tended to use cheap pigments to achieve his shimmering effects.

    • The watercolours in the Vaughan Collection are indeed a must see. I don’t really think that Turner’s work is a preface to impressionism. As you say, he was one of a kind!

  • Here in Dijon all of the museums are free. It’s great to pop in even for a few minutes to visit my favorite pieces of art.

    • Same in London. And it is great. That said, it doesn’t work like this in paris, and you can’t go for 5 minutes only. What a shame!

  • There is a magnificent book by philosopher Alain de Botton called Art as Therapy, and it’s full of the consolations art offers to people. Using Turner’s work to help you come to terms with living in London is exactly the kind of reaction evoked throughout the book. 🙂

    • Art can indeed be a therapy. I think that it clearly was, in my case. I need to check out this book.

  • Lovely and poetic post, Muriel, can we share Turner (a little bit)? When I lived in London and went to the art museums I felt mesmerized by his way of painting clouds and the sea, maybe this is the reason I felt specially drawn to your “Love and light play hide and seek in the clouds.”

    • I am not (very) jealous, Barbara. And I have moved on. We can totally share!

  • William Turner’s work was magnificent, and like all artists I admire, ahead of his time. Delacroix was another favorite of mine. Art that is so moving it evokes strong emotions is never to be taken lightly and I understand your passion for Turner. Your words were a fitting tribute to that emotion. Lovely post.

    • Thank you Cathy. I love Delacroix too. We seem to have the same tastes. Art can be moving. That said, most of the time, I don’t warm up to what I see. Maybe I am becoming more selective with age?

  • I love him too but he was always in the friend zone…he is so underplayed still I find considering his talent. Mind you I think that May be a good thing. I think in the case of Monet his popularity almost diminishes his work by the glare of his images being so ubiquitous. But I enjoy peeking into other peoples love letters! 🙂

    • Well, what can I say? I am glad that there is no competition! And you can peek all you like…

  • Very passionate! I loved it, the whole thing..the concept, your words, the images, the feelings. :-)))

    • Thank you Joy! I think that love should always be celebrated, right? It must be my French side.

  • A lovely post! And you never really choose who you love, so no need for guilt at not falling for a French artist, Muriel…

    • I know I shouldn’t gel guilty, Flora, but I really do. That’s just the way it is. Maybe it is some sort of artistic patriotism?

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  • Absolutely gorgeous post, such a fresh and unique piece and it made me smile

    • Thank you Mackenzie. I am so pleased you like it. It is my all-time favourite post. I think that it is about impossible love as much as it is about Turner…

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    Apart from the best advertisement for free entry to galleries and musea in London, it is a reminder of how lunchbreaks can be improved if you make the time!