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    Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

    The annual exhibition of Turner watercolours opens today at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. This year, watercolours by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) will be complemented by the works of a broad range of over 20 artists that were inspired by him. All works in this year’s display, by artists such as William Leech, Evie Hone, Paul Cézanne and John Singer Sargent, are from the Gallery’s collection, with many watercolours having not been seen in years. Some recent acquisitions by the artists Basil Blackshaw and Kyffin Williams will also be included. In 1900, the Gallery received a bequest of 31 watercolours and drawings by Turner from the English collector Henry Vaughan. Vaughan stipulated that the watercolours be exhibited every year, free of charge, for the month of January, when the light is at its weakest. Since 1901, the Gallery has displayed the watercolours for just one month every year, ensuring that the collection remains in pristine condition. Turner: The Visionary is on display until January 31.

    Below Arvier, looking down the Val d’Aosta towards Mont Emilius, 1836, Artist: Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851, Watercolour on paper.


    Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) – The Rialto Bridge, Venice

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) – The Doge’s Palace, Venice

    The THE annual January exhibition of Turner watercolours runs at the National Gallery of Ireland from New Year’s Day until the 31st of the month. Turner – The Vaughan Bequest opens alongside an exhibition of prints from the artist’s Liber Studiorum series comprising landscape and seascape exhibitions.

    Inspired by Claude Lorrain’s Liber Veritatis or book of truth – a series of drawings conceived as a record of his landscape paintings to prevent forgery –  Turner’s most ambitious publishing venture was the Liber Studiorum print series.  In contrst to Claude, the Liber Studiorum by Turner was a set of 71 original compositions aimed at elevating the status of landscape art.

    This printing project made Turner’s work accessible to a wider audience and served as an effective advertisement for his work. In 1903, the National Gallery of Ireland was presented with a complete set of Liber Studiorum prints by the Irish-born clergyman Stopford Augustus Brooke (1832-1916).

    In 1900 the National Gallery received a bequest of 31 Turner watercolours and drawings from English collector Henry Vaughan (1809-99).  In his will Vaughan divided his collection between the national galleries of London, Edinburgh and Dublin and stiplulated that the watercolours should be exhibited every year, free of charge, in January when natural light is at its most favourable for delicate watercolours.

    The works arrived in September 1900 in a custom made oak cabinet which is also on display this year.  They were first exhibited in January 1901. The Gallery continues to adhere to the conditions of the bequest and the collection remains in pristine condition.

    Born in 1775, Joseph Mallord William Turner began his career as a topographical artist.  The Vaughan Bequest at the National Gallery of Ireland is a representative collection of Turner’s work on paper. Highly finished works, engraved for various print series, hang side-by-side with evocative sketches from his annual tours of Switzerland and Italy.  The collection tracks Turner’s development as an artist and reveals his enthusiasm for landscape.   Illustrated are two of his Venice watercolours as a complement to the Canaletto exhibition also on now at the National Gallery.


    Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

    J.M.W. Turner – The Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen

    One of the greatest watercolours by Turner left in private hands made £2 million at Sotheby’s sale of Old Master and British Works on Paper sale in London today.  The Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen, which depicts one of the most dramatic landscapes in the Swiss Alps,  achieved  one of the top prices for a watercolour for an artist.

    Inspired by Turner’s travels to the region between 1841 and 1844, the work was commissioned by his patron Elhanan Bicknell to hang as a companion piece to the iconic Blue Rigi, which achieved a record price at Sotheby’s in 2006 and now hangs in Tate Britain . Works from Turner’s ‘late’ Swiss series, of which this is one, have come to be seen as the ‘climax of a lifetime devoted to the expression of light and colour’.


    Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

    J.M.W. Turner (1775-1881) – Ehrenbreitstein UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR £18.5 MILLION

    One of the greatest works by J.M.W. Turner still in private hands comes up at Sotheby’s in July. Ehrenbreitstein is the most important oil of a German subject that Turner ever painted.  It depicts the ruined fortress of Ehrenbreitstein near Coblenz – a place of special significance for the artist. Painted in 1835  this late work is from a period widely considered Turner’s best.  Other works from this time now hang in the world’s greatest museums, with only a minute number of this importance and quality remaining in private ownership. The subject of enormous critical acclaim when it was first exhibited in 1835.  It comes up in London on July 5 with an estimate of £15-25 million.

    Major works of such quality by Turner are rare on the international market. The last example to be offered (Rome, from Mount Aventine, painted in the same year as Ehrenbreitstein and offered at Sotheby’s in 2014) made a record £30.3 million.  This was the highest price achieved for any British-born artist at auction, and placed Turner alongside Rubens and Raphael as one of just three artists from the pre-Impressionist era to have achieved prices at this level.

    Alex Bell, Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s International Old Masters Department, said: “This painting was one of five that Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1835; the other four of which are now in some of the most distinguished institutions in the world. Of those five paintings, it was Ehrenbreitstein that caught the imagination of public and critics alike – and it’s easy to see why. Its extraordinary range and depth of colour, and typically inspired and imaginative use of light, would in any case mark this painting out as a masterpiece, but its true greatness lies in the way Turner applies his painterly genius to transform the ruins of the famous fortress into a poetic and symbolic image as resonant then as it is today.“

    Of the other four paintings exhibited by Turner in that year one is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, one is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, one is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and one is in the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio.

    (See post on for September 8, 2014)


    Sunday, January 1st, 2017

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) Sunset over Petworth Park, Sussex, c.1828 Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    JMW Turner (1775-1851)
    Sunset over Petworth Park, Sussex, c.1828
    Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    The annual exhibition of works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) displayed for the month of January at the National Gallery of Ireland gets underway today. For over a century the Gallery has followed the stipulations set out by the art collector Henry Vaughan in a bequest; that 31 watercolours covering the entire career of one of the great masters of British painting were to be exhibited to the public all at one time, free of charge, during the month of January. This is the month when daylight is low and at its least damaging level.

    Inspired by the writings of John Ruskin the collector Henry Vaughan (1809-1899) decided to gift his collection of Turner watercolours to the National Galleries of Ireland, England and Scotland. This year, alongside the much loved Vaughan bequest, the National Gallery of Ireland will display a selection of Turner’s Liber Studiorum prints.  Turner embarked on his most important publishing venture the Liber Studiorum – or drawing book – in 1807.  The series of over 70 prints was conceived as a visual treatise on landscape and art and made his work accessible to a wide audience.  The show runs to January 31.


    Friday, January 1st, 2016

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) Great Yarmouth Harbour, Norfolk, c.1840 Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
    Great Yarmouth Harbour, Norfolk, c.1840
    Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    It is January and the Turner watercolours are once again on annual display at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.  This is a yearly showing of the Vaughan Bequest of 31 watercolours by Turner.  These delicate works are displayed at a time of year when the natural light is at its lowest. A series of special events and talks devoted to Turner will take place at the Gallery this month.

    The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh has its 38 works from the Vaughan Bequest on display this month too.  The works in both galleries were bequeathed by Henry Vaughan, a London art collector with a passion for Turner and a connoisseur’s eye for quality.