The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, meaning the DeYoung Museum of Art and the Palace of the Legion of Honor, have given us superb exhibitions of the later work of William Turner over the summer. By the way SF also has the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Art Museum, which are not included when you say, "The Fine arts Museums of San Francisco," even though they definitely have fine art in them. And then there is the Palace of Fine Arts which is not an art museum and has no art in it, fine or otherwise. Clear?
Anyhoo, the Legion still has its exhibit of English Works on Paper through the end of November, and it is astounding to see what the likes of Turner, Blake and many others could do with pencil, pastel, ink and water color. These were often studies for paintings to be done later, and they don't hold up as well, being on paper. But there are effects that in some instances surpass what the masters accomplish in paint.
The DeYoung's exhibit of Turner's later paintings, now closed, was a jaw dropping experience. Mike Leigh's film, Mr. Turner, starring Timothy Spall, was a great warm-up for this exhibit. It tells the story of the barber's son who surpasses his contemporaries and starts painting the light, years ahead of those French Impressionists we now so love. Perhaps we know him less because he refused to sell his work to the highest bidder, instead leaving it to the English people to be held in trust. The paintings were spectacular.
The exhibit closed at the end of September, and this sky appeared as if to bid it goodbye.