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Turner in January...

The famous Scottish collection of watercolors by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) will once again be on view at the National Gallery of Scotland in January 2023.

It was bequeathed to Scotland by the great art collector Henry Vaughan in 1900. Since then, under Vaughan's strict guidelines, they were not displayed at the National Gallery of Scotland until January, when natural light levels are at their lowest. As a result, these watercolors still possess a freshness and intensity of color, almost 200 years since their creation.

Joseph Mallord William Turner. Chutes du Rhin à Schaffhausen. Aquarelle. Vers 1841. National Gallery of Scotland
Joseph Mallord William Turner. Chutes du Rhin à Schaffhausen. Aquarelle. Vers 1841. National Gallery of Scotland

While Joseph Mallord William Turner was a brilliant watercolourist and excelled in oil painting, he also produced a number of works intended to be reproduced in prints. He is as much attracted by scenes of modern life, such as steamboats or trains, as by the work of the old masters who excel in the representation of the landscape, in particular Nicolas Poussin.

The Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen in Switzerland are the largest waterfalls in Europe. Turner made many sketches of it, climbing the rocks by the river to enjoy different vantage points. This watercolor streaked with ocher fragments that plunge into the blue of the river remarkably renders the almost wild atmosphere of the place.

Joseph Mallord William Turner. Loch Coruisk sur l'île de Skye. Aquarelle. Vers 1831. National Gallery of Scotland
Joseph Mallord William Turner. Loch Coruisk sur l'île de Skye. Aquarelle. Vers 1831. National Gallery of Scotland

Turner's first visit to Scotland took place in 1801. In 1818, he devoted an entire sketchbook devoted to landscapes of the country as illustrations for the book "Provincial Antiquities of Scotland". In 1822, he attended the visit of King George VI to Edinburgh and painted a canvas of the banquet offered to the sovereign.

Turner traveled to the Isle of Skye in 1831. His destination was Loch Coruisk, nestled in the jagged peaks of the Black Cuillin. He made several sketches around the loch, but none relate exactly to this watercolour. Turner creates a heavy, nostalgic atmosphere as clouds sweep over the mountain peaks.

Joseph Mallord William Turner. Thun. Aquarelle. Vers 1844. National Gallery of Scotland. Photo Antonia Reeve
Joseph Mallord William Turner. Thun. Aquarelle. Vers 1844. National Gallery of Scotland. Photo Antonia Reeve

This view of the lakeside town of Thun probably dates from Turner's last trip to Switzerland in 1844. It took all his technical mastery to render the threatening storm clouds that darken the background above the mountain peaks. distant mountains, vaguely brushed with blue.

Among the Impressionists, James Abbott Whistler and Alfred Sisley were the first to discover Turner's work. Gustave Geoffroy will write on his return from Belle-Île where he met Claude Monet in 1886: "Turner, from the Claude Lorrains and the Watteau of the Embarquement pour Cythère revealed his prestige to Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro during the stay that they did together in London."


Turner et l'Écosse


National Galleries of Scotland

73 Belford Road,

Edinburgh, EH4 3DS

Écosse


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