Ross Sterling Turner was a painter, watercolorist, and illustrator active in the Boston area known for his landscapes and floral subjects. As a youth he moved with his family to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and in 1862 to Alexandria, Virginia. In 1875 he worked as a draftsman for the Patent Office in Washington, D.C., before leaving in 1876 to study in Europe, first briefly in Paris and then in Munich. He apparently did not enroll in the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts but instead sought informal instruction from the more experienced American students there, particularly J. Frank Currier (1843 -1909). Loosely associated with the "Duveneck boys" after about 1879, Turner painted in Venice and, Florence, and he also worked in Rome. In 1882 he settled in Boston, exhibiting more watercolors than oil paintings. He was closely associated with CHILDE HASSAM, becoming known for his impressionist watercolor paintings of gardens. He married in 1885 and moved to Salem, Massachusetts, but maintained a Boston studio until 1903. He had a summer house and studio in Wilton, New Hampshire. He was active as an instructor in the Boston area, teaching privately, at Grundmann Studios, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and after 1909 at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. Turner wrote on watercolor technique and other art subjects. In 1899 he exhibited watercolors of Mexican scenes painted during a trip in 1898. He frequently traveled to the Caribbean and elsewhere in search of motifs.
Boston Public Library, Art Division, artist’s file, clippings § Frank T. Robinson, Living New England Artists (1888; reprint, New York: Garland, 1977), p. 173-78 § S. C. de Soissons, Boston Artists: A Parisian Critic’s Notes (Boston: N.p., 1894), pp. 90-93 § Arthur Chamberlain, "Boston Artists: Walter Gilman Page-Ross Turner," Art Interchange 44 (December 1900): 134-36 § Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, The Bostonians: Painters of an Elegant Age, 1870-1930, exh. cat., 1986, p. 228, biographical note by Erica E. Hirshler.