Friday, September 12, 2014

The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free

Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory)  - the Morning after the Deluge - Moses Writing the Book of Genesis' exhibited 1843
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory) - the Morning after the Deluge - Moses Writing the Book of Genesis exhibited 1843
Oil on canvas
support: 787 x 787 mm frame: 1036 x 1036 x 115 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
10 September 2014 – 25 January 2015
Admission £15 (£13.10 concessions) or £16.50 (£14.50 concessions) with Gift Aid donation
Tate Britain, Linbury Galleries
For information call +44 (0)20 7887 8888, visit
The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free is the first major exhibition to survey the achievements of JMW Turner (1775–1851) during his final period (1835–50). The exhibition reassesses the extraordinary body of work Turner created during this period, including some of his most celebrated works, and opens at Tate Britain on 10 September. 
The exhibition begins in 1835, the year that Turner reached 60, and closes with his last exhibits at the Royal Academy in 1850. It demonstrates how his closing years were a time of exceptional energy and vigour, initiated by one of his most extensive tours of Europe. Bringing together 180 works from the UK and abroad, it seeks to challenge assumptions around the idea of the ‘elderly’ artist, as well as his radical techniques, processes and materials during this productive time. 
The show includes iconic paintings like 

Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus exh. 1839 (Tate),
 which is united with its pair 

Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino (J. Paul Getty Museum, LA), 

The Wreck Buoy 1849 (National Museums Liverpool) 
and watercolours such as 

Heidelberg: Sunset c.1840 (Manchester City Galleries). 
Rather than focusing on any assumptions about the pessimism of old age, Turner maintained his commitment to the observation of nature. He brought renewed energy to the exploration of the social, technological and scientific developments of modern life, in works such as

Rain, Steam, and Speed - The Great Western Railway 1844 (National Gallery). 
He also continued to engage with the religious and historical themes that linked him to the cultural traditions of his era. 
Featuring many large-scale oil paintings alongside drawings, prints and watercolours, the exhibition addresses Turner’s continual re-invention of his practice through experimentation with materials and techniques. It also demonstrates his radicalism during this period - while his Victorian contemporaries were exploring other priorities, he continued to champion an unfettered creativity. He consciously developed his style and technique with each new project, driving the message of his paintings into the very materials and formats with which he worked. These works were often poised equivocally between finished and unfinished, for example in a series of reworkings in oil of subjects originally published as prints in his Liber Studiorum. 
During his final period Turner continued to widen his exposure in the marketplace. From pictures of the whaling industry in the 1840s to ‘sample studies’ and finished watercolours such as The Blue Rigi, Sunrise 1842 (Tate), he constantly sought to demonstrate his appeal to new admirers, led by John Ruskin who famously described Turner as ‘the greatest of the age.’ 
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) was born in London, the son of a barber. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1789 at the age of 14 before becoming a member of the RA in 1802 and Professor of Perspective in 1807.  His work was prolific and varied including drawings, prints, watercolours and oils. Throughout his later years he continued to tour Europe, his last trip taking place in 1845. He exhibited his last four pictures at the Royal Academy in 1850 and died in 1851, his body being laid to rest in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free is curated by Sam Smiles, Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, Exeter University, David Blayney Brown, Manton Curator of British Art 1790–1850, Tate Britain and Amy Concannon, Assistant Curator 1790–1850, Tate Britain, the exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue from Tate Publishing and a programme of talks and events in the gallery. JMW Turner: Painting Set Free will show at the J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles, USA (24 February – 24 May 2015) and travel to the de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA in 2015 (20 June – 20 September 2015).


While this exhibition is in London:

One of the Last Great Turner Masterpieces
Remaining in Private Hands
To be auctioned at Sotheby’s London this December

Last seen on the market in 1878, this spectacular landscape in immaculate condition has remained in the Rosebery Collection for the past 136 years

Joseph Mallord William Turner R.A. (1775-1851), Rome, from Mount Aventine, 1835 (est. £15-20 million) Oil on its original canvas and in its original frame, 36 by 49 in.; 91.6 by 124.6 cm
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“This is one of those amazing pictures by which Mr Turner dazzles the imagination and confounds all criticism: it is beyond praise”
The Morning Post, 1836

One of the last great Turner masterpieces remaining in private hands will be the highlight of Sotheby’s London Evening sale of Old Master on 3rd December 2014. Painted in 1835 by Britain’s most celebrated artist, Rome, from Mount Aventine is among Turner’s most subtle and atmospheric depictions of the Italian city, a subject that captivated Turner for over twenty years. The large-scale oil painting is further distinguished by its exceptional state of preservation, as well as a prestigious and unbroken provenance, having changed hands for the only time in 1878, when it was acquired by the 5th Earl of Rosebery, later Prime Minister of Great Britain. The picture has remained in the Rosebery collection ever since and will be offered for sale with an estimate of £15-20 million.
Discussing the forthcoming sale, Alex Bell, Joint International Head and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department said: There are fewer than ten major Turners in private hands known today and this work must rank as one of the very finest. This painting, which is nearly 200 years old, looks today as if it has come straight from the easel of the artist; never relined and never subject to restoration, the picture retains the freshness of the moment it was painted: the hairs from Turner’s brush, the drips of liquid paint which have run down the edge of the canvas, and every scrape of his palette knife have been preserved in incredible detail. Rome, from Mount Aventine comes to sale at the same time as the groundbreaking exhibition of “Late Turner” at the Tate which will further enhance our understanding of the artist’s genius. Its emergence on the market represents a rare and exciting opportunity for collectors”.

Rome, from Mount Aventine is a brilliant technical feat demonstrating the artist’s virtuosity as a landscape painter. It is possibly Turner’s most serene and beguiling vision of Rome - an enduring, timeless image, in which every detail of the city is painstakingly and accurately portrayed. With infinite subtlety he captures the first rays of morning light as they dispel the rising mist from the Tiber and bath the eternal city in a soft golden glow. The work depicts the city as seen from the Aventine Hill, looking north across the ancient city to the Field of Mars and the distant Vatican. The topography is dominated by the luminous River Tiber, which meanders its way through the ruins of antiquity, the glories of the High Renaissance and the wonders of the modern metropolis.

This spectacular panorama of Rome was a response to a specific commission from Turner’s friend and most important patron during the 1820s and 1830s, Hugh Munro of Novar (1797-1864). Munro requested that the artist painted what he termed “a copy of the city”, a “picture of modern Romewhen Turner visited the city for the second time in 1828. However, it was not until seven years later, in 1835, that the work, based on detailed studies made during the artist’s trip, was completed. When Turner exhibited his work at the Royal Academy in 1836, the Morning Post wrote: “This is one of those amazing pictures by which Mr Turner dazzles the imagination and confounds all criticism: it is beyond praise. ”.

The painting was hung upon the walls of Hugh Munro of Novar’s London house until the sale of his estate in 1878. Here it caught the eye of Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), who had just married Hannah de Rothschild, the greatest heiress of her day. He paid £6,142 for the picture, a price which exceeded all previous records for a work by Turner at the time1. The painting is one of two great works by Turner purchased by the Earl of Rosebery from the Munro of Novar sale, the other being Modern Rome Campo Vaccino (first exhibited in 1839) for which he paid the lesser sum of £4,240. The latter picture was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum at Sotheby’s London in July 2010 for £29.7 million, an auction record for the British Master.

Passed down to the descendants of the Earl of Rosebery, first hanging in their London house in Berkeley Square and then at Mentmore, Rome, from Mount Aventine has been on loan to the nation for the last thirty six years.

Current auction record for a work by Joseph Mallord William Turner R.A:
Modern Rome Campo Vaccino (1838-1839) which was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum for £29,721,250 / $44,935,558 / €35,727,792 at Sotheby’s London on 7 July 2010 (est. £12-18 million).