The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Ross Sterling Turner, 1847-1915

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1847.06.29
Place of Birth: Westport
Date of Death: 1915.02.12
Place of Death: Nassau


Ross Sterling Turner was a painter. Turner married Louise Blaney, the eldest sister of the artist Dwight Blaney, in 1885.


Turner moved from Westport, New York to Alexandria, Virginia in 1862. He was employed as a mechanical draughtsman, working in this capacity at the U.S. Patent Office in Washington DC. He journeyed to Europe in 1876, visiting Paris before joining the Munich Academy, where he was introduced to William Merritt Chase and Frank Duveneck. He was also influenced by his friend, Constantin Bolonachi, a Greek marine artist. Turner then went on to visit Florence, Rome and Venice around 1879, before returning to America in 1883, where he established himself in Boston.

There Turner exhibited at the Boston Art club and Doll and Richards on Newbury Street. He became acquainted with Childe Hassam and Celia Thaxter at Appledore. Even though he moved to Salem in 1885 he kept a studio in Boston. Turner was known for his proficiency as a colourist, who worked in both oils and watercolours, and would go on to travel to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Turner's Use of Water Color for Beginners, 1886, underlines his commitment to teaching; he taught in the architecture department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1884-1885 and 1886-1914, before, in 1909, he became an instructor at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. A memorial exhibition of Turner's work was held at the Guild of Boston Artists in 1915.

Turner met JW in Venice in 1880, and his reminiscencies were recorded in the Pennell's biography of Whistler.


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908;