Salisbury Museum is extremely proud to announce a new exhibition of national importance, throwing new light on the earliest work of the young artist J.M.W. Turner in and around Salisbury and its magnificent cathedral.
The museum is situated a few meters from Salisbury Cathedral in the historic town of Salisbury, where the 800 year-old Magna Carta will be displayed in 2015. Salisbury Museum is also less than 20 minutes by car from the ancient monument of Stonehenge, and houses a fabulous new gallery where the archaeology of Stonehenge can be explored.
Building on recent successes, particularly the 2011 exhibition exploring Constable’s links with the area, Salisbury Museum will showcase Turner’s meteoric rise as he worked for two very rich patrons in the Salisbury region.
Turner first visited Salisbury in 1795 when he was 20 years old. As his career developed, he returned to paint an area that captivated him as an artist. Set in the vast plains of the Wessex landscape, his depictions of Stonehenge in particular proved to be among his most hauntingly atmospheric works.
In the late 1790s, Sir Richard Colt Hoare commissioned Turner, then barely into his twenties, to produce a series of watercolours of Salisbury, the most impressive of which depict the newly restored great cathedral. Hoare was a wealthy gentleman-antiquarian who inherited the nearby Stourhead estate in 1784. His involvement in the first archaeological surveys of the ancient landscapes around Salisbury led him to publish volumes documenting the history of Ancient and Modern Wiltshire.
Another local patron, who gave the young Turner invaluable work, was William Beckford, described by Byron as ‘England’s wealthiest son’. Turner turned down a commission to work with Lord Elgin in Greece for a year, in favour of Beckford’s much more lucrative commission to paint the famous folly that Beckford was building at Fonthill.
The third part of this exhibition will chart Turner’s fascination with the wider Wessex region – spanning the area of Wiltshire around Salisbury, as well as the Dorset coast, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It culminates in Turner’s record of the historic visit made by the French King, the first such visit to England since the fourteenth century, to Queen Victoria in 1844
The exhibition has been selected by Turner scholar Ian Warrell to build a picture of a brilliant young artist, driven by self-belief and limitless ambition, grafting his way in the world.
The inventive and dizzying watercolours at the heart of the exhibition, reassembled for the first time since 1883, will show how commissions from Wiltshire’s great patrons provided the crucial springboard for the career of one of England’s best-loved artists.
The Salisbury Museum
The Kings House
65 The Close
Another great reason to visit Salisbury in 2015!
The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company
Guided Tours of Salisbury and Stonehenge