Turner's Wessex: Architecture and Ambition
22 May – 27 September 2015
The first exhibition devoted to JMW Turner’s drawings and paintings of Salisbury Cathedral, the city and its surroundings.
A collaborative project with Turner scholar Ian Warrell, the display explores the artist's relationship with the local landscape. Turner's career started here; he first visited the town when he was just 20 years old and returned many times during his early years as an artist to paint the cathedral, abbey, Stonehenge circle and the Wessex plains. His first patrons were also in Salisbury.
It is drawn into three main areas: Turner's responses to the cathedral and town, his views of the neo-gothic Fonthill Abbey painted under commission for ‘England’s wealthiest son’ William Beckford, and his work recording other parts of Wessex – encompassing Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
Salisbury from Old Sarum was one of a series of 'Picturesque views in England and Wales' painted by Turner and engraved for publication in 1838. Critic John Ruskin wrote of the work: 'The rain-clouds... in this picture are wrought with a care I have never seen equalled in any other sky of the same kind. It is the rain of blessing –abundant but full of brightness; golden gleams are flying across the wet grass, and fall softly on the lines of willow in the valley...'.