There are 38 Turner paintings in the Vaughan Bequest and they will be on display from today – for one month only – at the National Gallery of Scotland (NGS) where visitors must book a timed slot.
Donated to NGS in 1900 by art collector Henry Vaughan (1809-1899), the exquisite works in the bequest range from early wash drawings of the 1790s, to the colourful, atmospheric and wonderfully expressive late works executed on visits to the Swiss Alps during the 1830s and 1840s. The 38 works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) were hand-picked by Vaughan from his extensive collection, to give an overview which encapsulates Turner’s entire career.
Vaughan was known as a distinguished and astute art collector, most notably of nineteenth-century British art, in particular Turner and Constable. He had over 100 Turner watercolours in his collection and was a generous philanthropist, having come into inherited wealth in 1828.
Eager to preserve the luminosity of the delicate works, Vaughan stipulated that the watercolours be exhibited every year, free of charge, but only for the month of January, when the light is at its weakest. Since 1901, NGS has faithfully maintained this tradition and displayed the watercolours for the first month of the year only, thus ensuring the pristine condition of this splendid collection of Turner watercolours.
Joseph Mallord William Turner was perhaps the most prolific and innovative of all British artists to take inspiration from the landscape. He was drawn as much to scenes of modern life, for example he painted steam boats and feats of modern engineering, as he was to the work of 17th and 18th century artists who excelled at landscape.
Turner’s approach to the rendering of landscape was fresh and original. He repeatedly sought out scenes of awesome topography such as vast and imposing mountain ranges, and his approach to the weather was similarly dramatic. He was drawn to examples of striking and often extreme natural feats: storms, tumultuous seas, lightning and the breaking dawn all feature prominently in his work. His subject matter was not limited to landscape, but also incorporated contemporary, historical, literary, religious and mythological themes.
TURNER IN JANUARY
1 January – 31 January 2022
Scottish National Gallery
The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
0131 624 6200 | nationalgalleries.org
Admission free but advance booking required
Book online at nationalgalleries.org
Highlights of the bequest include a series of spectacular views of Venice such as The Piazzetta, Venice and Venice from the Laguna, which capture the drama and explosive skies of late summer Adriatic storms and demonstrate the artist’s consummate mastery of atmospheric lighting effects.
In 2022, we are delighted that this much-loved annual exhibition is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Christopher Baker, Director of European and Scottish Art and Portraiture at the National Galleries of Scotland said: “The Vaughan Turners have a very special status. Wonderfully well preserved, they allow us to travel with the artist across Scotland and Europe, marvelling at his technical range and virtuosity. From Skye to Venice and crossing the Alps, he sought out the most spectacular and lyrical of subjects and brought to them a deeply romantic sensibility. This annual exhibition is a great moment of escapism and its return a cause for celebration!”
This much-loved annual display opens today, New Year’s Day 2022 and runs throughout the month of January.
Admission is free but a booking for the Scottish National Gallery must be made in order to enjoy this exhibition via nationalgalleries.org
Coronavirus measures in line with Scottish Government guidelines will be in place to ensure the health and safety of visitors. These include limiting groups to no more than three households and maintaining physical distancing between groups. This will enable people to be reassured during their visit while enjoying very personal encounters with their much-loved artworks. NGS has also secured the UK-wide industry standard ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation.