Turner and the Age of British Watercolour
7 January – 12 March 2017
A sumptuous display of paintings from the golden period of British watercolour by Turner and other leading artists.
During the 19th century British watercolour was at its prime thanks to the efforts of Turner and his contemporaries; in 1819 The Sun newspaper proudly declared it ‘a delightful repast for patriotism as well as taste’.
The exhibition at Petworth brings together seven works by Turner with paintings by both his inspirations and his contemporaries – such as Edward Dayes, Thomas Hearne, John Constable, John Sell Cotman and Thomas Girtin.
A range of oil paintings and sculpture from the Petworth House art collection, the finest in the care of the National Trust, are also on display, demonstrating the range of artistic triumphs during this period.
Turner’s, A First Rate Taking in Stores from 1818 is the only one of the artist's painting to have been documented 'in the making' by an observer. The witness wrote: ‘He began by pouring wet paint onto the paper until it was saturated, he tore, he scratched, he scrabbled at it in a kind of frenzy and the whole thing was chaos – but gradually and as if by magic the lovely ship, with all its exquisite minutia came into being’.
Other highlights include previously unseen works from the private collection at Petworth – such as an album of hand-coloured etchings, tinted with watercolour, by political satirist James Gillray – and contemporary pieces inspired by Turner's methods.