Joseph Mallord William Turner, landscape and historical painter, was born on 23 April 1775 in London. Although not much is known about his early education, it is likely that he attended a school in Brentford.
It is believed that Turner developed his artistic skills at a young age and he later attended the Royal Academy Schools, concentrating for a time in the plaster academy, where he stayed until 1799. While there, Turner and his close friend Thomas Girtin were also taught landscape painting by Dr Thomas Moro at the physician's own academy.
From 1794 Turner embarked on annual sketching tours and was rarely seen without his sketchbook. His first tour was to the Midlands and Wales, although it was his 1797 trip to the Lake District, Yorkshire and Northumberland that led to the creation of a number of key pieces.
His entries into the 1796 summer exhibition at the Royal Academy included a painting of Hampden Court, Herefordshire, the seat of Viscount Malden. Also included were images of Ely Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral. The latter was bought by Edward Lascelles of Harewood House, North Yorkshire. During Turner's tour of the north in 1797, he visited Harewood and painted two watercolours depicting the newly designed landscape.
The Earl of Yarborough soon commissioned drawings of the mausoleum built on his Lincolnshire estate by James Wyatt and William Beckford. Beckford himself ordered paintings of his own residence at Fonthill, the gothic abbey in Wiltshire, and during 1799 Turner stayed there for three weeks.
Other commissions of country houses and estates continued for the remainder of Turner's career. His friendship with Walter Fawkes of Farnley Hall, Yorkshire, helped his cause and Turner often spent periods living with his patrons. In 1809 he visited Egremont at Petworth, and in 1810 he painted two watercolours of Lowther Castle, the Westmoreland seat of the Earl of Lonsdale.
Between 1807 and 1812 Turner created over 50 drawings of Solus Lodge, a house that he had designed in the most modest of terms. During the mid-1810s, Turner toured Yorkshire and Lancashire again, this time accompanied by Fawkes. It was during this and a later visit in 1816, that Turner created the paintings of Hackfall, North Yorkshire.
His illustrious career and significant pieces included many whose subject were designed landscapes and country houses. Of these, those at Harewood are believed to have been some of his first. He was buried in the crypt at St Paul's Cathedral following his death on 19 December 1851.