Inspired by the Tate collection, which houses the largest collection of Joseph Mallord William Turner works, I created a timeline based on the artworks Turner produced while visiting the Isle of Wight, UK. The timeline follows the artist’s first trip to the island in 1975, as he made his way onto the north of the island, first travelling southwest, then following the coastline clockwise around the island and back north, for his departure. It was on this trip that he created “Fisherman at Sea”, the first oil painting he exhibited at the Royal Academy. Turner returned to the island in 1827 to visit and stay with his friend, the architect John Nash. Turner sketched many images of the architect's house “The Castle at East Cowes”, which no longer stands today, as well as second annual sailing regatta, which still happens today during the Isle of Wight’s “Cowes Week”.


To create the timeline, I scraped the Tates collection using beautiful soup. I was able to obtain the title, description, data, medium, size and reference number for all works. As there are over 41,000 works, I first narrowed my focus to just the 500 Turner paintings in the collection. At this point, I was hoping once the json file was converted to csv, I would be inspired by the data to create a visualization. Looking at the data, I noticed Turner spent quite a bit of time on the Isle of Wight, but didn’t create many paintings of the island. I then did a second scrape for all the works with “Isle of Wight” in the title or description. This produced almost 500 results. From here I began to sort the works by date, sketchbook and medium. The patterns that resulted enabled me to build the timeline.

Final Thoughts

This project was great to work on due to how organized and thorough the Tate keeps its online collection. Description of artworks are thorough, detailed and make reference to other artworks I scraped, which helped the timeline creation. Although I find the sketches Turner created on the island interesting, I do wish there were more large scale painting to make the timeline more visually interesting.