Matisse, on his honeymoon in London, made his pilgrimage to view the Turners in the National Gallery. As Spurling puts it, "For Matisse,...Turner was a link between the present and the past, a way of reconciling the traditional realism of his native North with the lure of pure color which already beckoned him so fiercely. He described Turner's impact nearly fifty years later, at a moment when his own recovery from a near-fatal operation had made the world once again look fresh and sparkling. It is Matisse's most brilliant evocation in words of a window opening on a new world, a period of radiant bliss after unhappiness and self-denial." (Spurling, The Unknown Matisse, p. 156)
And what were those words?
Matisse: "It is always a good thing to begin with renunciation, to impose a regime of abstinence on yourself from time to time. Turner lived in a cellar. Once a week he had the shutters suddenly flung open, and then what incandescence! what dazzlement! what jewels!"
Tension between realism and pure color. Abstinence and release. Energy, energy, energy.