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    Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851 Below Arvier, looking down the Val d’Aosta towards Mont Emilius, 1836

    We might as well approach the New Year with hope.  Ireland’s art lovers missed out on the annual Turner exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland in January 2021 because of the pandemic.  In 2022 the much loved Turner watercolours at the gallery go on display for the month of January from today.  A highlight of the yearly cultural calendar the paintings have been shown annually in January since 1901, except for 2021.The 120th exhibition, Turner and Place: Landscapes in Light and Detail scheduled for last year, opens today instead.   With luck and a dose of optimism this might be the harbinger of a more complete cultural year in 2022 with more gallery visits, more in room attendance at auction, more fairs, more opportunities to meet and greet.  Fingers crossed.

    Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851 Lake Lucerne from Fluelen, 1841

    The Turner watercolours on display from today are remarkable and range from highly finished work to atmospheric sketches.In 2022 there is much to look forward to in terms of Turner.  JMW Turner: The Sun is God opens at the Beit Wing in the National Gallery next October. The touring exhibition of works from the collection of The Tate will display more than 80 works in a show that explores his fascination with natural forces and the sun, moon and clouds.  The exhibition, devised by the Turner scholar David Blayney Brown, showcases the artistic innovations of one of the greatest painters of the Romantic period.  It will feature 25 paintings and an array of watercolours.

    Meantime, back to Turner and Place.  The 31 Turner works will be shown alongside a group of 19 rare topographical drawings by Francis Place, who visited Ireland in 1698.Place’s views are the earliest known depictions of Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny, and Waterford within the national collection. This collection was purchased almost 50 years ago through the Gallery’s Shaw fund. It is the first time the two collections have been shown together and the first time since 1972 that the Place works will be displayed as a group.The Turners were bequeathed to the gallery by the English collector Henry Vaughan (1809-1899) who stipulated that the delicate watercolours be shown every year in January when natural light is at its weakest.  Subsequent generations of art lovers in Ireland have benefitted incalculably from Mr. Vaughan’s generosity.

    NGI 7516 Dublin from Phoenix Park by Francis Place. (1647-1728)

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