William Ralph Turner was the last of the great Northern Industrial painters, who was prominent and successful in the 1960s and 1970s, fell into obscurity for many years before a spectacular renaissance in the 2000s.


His paintings escape easy categorisation, but at the time of his first one-man retrospective, held in a Greater Manchester public gallery in 2005, the curator described him "as one of a very small number of English artists to fully engage with European expressionist art." The influences of, amongst others, Vlaminck and Rouault can be clearly seen, and artist Brian Bradshaw has commented that Turner's buildings "sway, bend and twist with serpentine character".


His vision of the industrialised north, and the people shaped by it, was entirely his own - he was no copyist, but he had an artistic magpie tendency and borrowed motifs from other prominent painters, most notably Lowry. One of Turner's most individual qualities has been the ability to paint Manchester's most drab industrial area with a palette and handling of pigment associated with Europe, not the atmosphere, light or visual incidents of the northern industrial scene.