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First London Showing of Turner Watercolours
October 2, 2013  | 
Andrew Clayton-Payne Ltd is delighted to announce a loan exhibition, "J.M.W. Turner, R.A.: Masterpieces from the Whitworth Gallery", which will be held at 14 Old Bond Street from 21 November to 8 December 2013. The 16 watercolours follow the career of J.M.W. Turner from a talented nineteen-year-old student of the Royal Academy to a painter in his seventies who had become one of the best-known and respected watercolourists of all time. The works show Turner’s progress from studies of precise detail and accuracy to works with an emphasis on colour and expression over exact replication. However, the exhibition also highlights certain elements that run through his entire oeuvre: a fascination with the effects of light and a skill at inducing an emotional response in the viewer through form and expressive brush strokes, so well-known in his later works, can also be clearly seen from Turner’s earliest days as a practising artist. 

From the earliest years of Turner’s career, is St. Anselm’s Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral, with Part of Thomas-a- Becket’s Crown from 1794. The work ranks as one of the most accomplished of Turner’s early architectural studies, and demonstrates his desire to produce an exact architectural likeness. He has deliberately pictured one of the most architecturally complex parts of the cathedral, and shown great sensitivity in his treatment of the receding buttresses and the play of light upon them. Other early work includes The Chapter House, Salisbury Cathedral, Hampshire (1799) and Conway Castle (1801-02), which has never been exhibited in London before. Conway Castle demonstrates Turner’s increased awareness of atmosphere over accuracy as he removes existing battlements present in preparatory sketches in order to please the eye.

Turner made many trips abroad throughout his life, and produced volumes of sketchbooks from his travels. Some works from these excursions, so crucial to the artist’s development as a painter, have never before been exhibited in London including Valley of Chamonix, France, Mont Blanc in the Distance (1809), based on a colour study from Turner’s St Gotthard and Mont Blanc sketchbook of 1802, and Tivoli: A Colour Beginning (1827-9), which demonstrates Turner’s growing concern with tonal contrasts and shading over the recording of precisely delineated forms; quickly manipulated washes give visual substance to a fleeting moment. With surprisingly abstract and remarkably economical brushwork, Tivoli conveys a strong sense of the dramatic landscape, bathed in the glowing sunlight in the Roman Campagna. This is taken much further when Turner returns to Italy many years later and produces the highly atmospheric and extremely sketchy watercolour, Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore from the Entrance to the Grand Canal from c. 1840, which epitomises the watery environment of the city.

One of the highlights of the show is Moonlight over Lake Lucerne with the Rigi in the Distance, Switzerland from 1841. Of the work, Andrew Clayton-Payne says, “It is a tour de force. It, and the other Lake Lucerne/Rigi watercolours, are considered amongst the greatest achievements not only in Turner’s career, but in the history of watercolour painting.” In this study, Turner represents the dazzling effect of reflected moonlight upon the still surface of the water. The hazy mountain beyond the lake is the Rigi, known to nineteenth century British travellers as the ‘Queen of Mountains’. These watercolours make use of the effect of changing light upon the mountain to portray the region at different times of day and under a variety of atmospheric conditions, anticipating the Impressionists of 30 years later. They are considered by many to be the pinnacle of Turner’s achievements in watercolour and were greatly admired by John Ruskin who purchased a number of them. Ruskin also commissioned a set of these watercolours, including Lake Lucerne at Sunset (1845), which displays Turner’s ability to imbue landscape with an atmospheric and emotionally charged quality through his use of colour and application of washes. The lightness of touch executed in this distant view lends the work an ethereal quality, enhanced by the glassy stillness of the water and the glistening quality of the reflected landscape.

For more information:
Andrew Clayton-Payne Ltd
14 Old Bond Street London W1S 4PP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 6980 Opening Hours: Thursday 21st November – Sunday 8th December 10am – 6pm including weekends ADMISSION FREE J.M.W. Turner 1775-1851 Lake Lucerne at Sunset 1845 Watercolour on paper, 29.2 x 47.7 cm