18 November 2017 – 4 March 2018
J.M.W. Turner (1775 – 1851) is widely regarded as one of the greatest English landscape painters of all time. Although he lived in London for most of his life, his favourite pastime was to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital and go in search of beautiful and tranquil countryside which he would capture in drawings, oils and watercolours. In the early 19th century, whilst living at Syon Ferry House in Isleworth, he frequently made trips into Surrey (before the county of London was created in 1889) along the Thames and the Wey Navigation. This landscape was a source of great inspiration for him and for the first time from 18 November 2017 – 4 March 2018 a unique collection of these works will be presented by The Lightbox gallery and museum in the exhibition ‘Turner in Surrey’.
Over 50 works and objects will feature in the exhibition of which there will be 34 oils, prints, watercolours and drawings. Works have been generously lent from Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Walker Art Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery. Complimenting these will be a number of Turner’s rare personal effects including his fishing rod, his travelling watercolour box and his watercolour palette, all kindly being loaned by the Royal Academy of Arts.
The exhibition will take people on a historical journey along the Thames and the Wey, with popular Surrey landmarks such as Richmond Hill, Kingston, Hampton Court, the Walton bridges, Newark Abbey, Guildford and St Catherine’s Hill, Godalming, Box Hill and Hind Head Hill all featuring in the works. To give context to how this route has changed since Turner’s time, the Surrey History Centre are loaning hand-drawn and printed maps and photographs which will allow visitors to compare then and now.
Capturing Pastoral Elegance
Turner’s approach to landscape painting was ground-breaking in its day. Never before had an artist of his stature roamed the English countryside so freely and frequently looking for sources of inspiration. Once Turner found a scene he liked he would often quickly sketch the landscape in pencil, watercolour or oil which gave his works a vivid freshness and softness of touch which has been rarely rivalled. It is little wonder therefore that he is commonly known as the ‘painter of light’ who strove to capture what he referred to as ‘pastoral elegance’.
Many of the works in ‘Turner in Surrey’ will embody this treatment of bringing elegance to the traditional pastoral scenes. Highlights will include the finished oil ‘View of Richmond Hill and Bridge’ (1808) and the stunning large-scale finished oil ‘Thompson’s Aeolian Harp’ (1809) which is also inspired by the beautiful Richmond landscape. Other gems will include an oil sketch on mahogany of ‘Newark Abbey on the Wey’ (1807) and another from the same year of ‘St Catherine’s Hill, Guildford’ (1807).
The Lightbox, Woking