Go See – London: Turner and the Masters at Tate Britain, through January 31, 2010

September 23rd, 2009

Helvoetsluys – the City of Utrecht, 64, Going to Sea, Joseph Mallord William Turner (Exh 1832). Via Tate

In acknowledgment of the grand artistic tradition of admiration, imitation and competition, through January 31 Tate Britain will present the work of Joseph Mallord William Turner alongside some 100 related works by Old Masters and Contemporaries. Amid the 30+ artists presented are Canaletto, Titian, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Veronese, Watteau and Constable.

Moonlight, a Study at Millbank, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1797). Via Tate

J.M.W. Turner is often regarded as one of the most artists of his time, whose work varied to include watercolors, oil paintings, drawings and prints. While Turner’s spirit is often deemed as independent, David Solkin, Professor of the Social History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, University of London who conceived the exhibition, wishes to highlight how Turner was in fact, deeply engaged with the work of other artists.

Related Links:
Tate Britain Website
Tate Britain exhibition revives Turner’s and Constable’s old rivalry
Turner and the Masters
The Times; May 8, 1832 – Royal Academy Exhibition [TimesArchive]
Turner and Constable: We’ve lost the art of feuds for art’s sake [Telegraph.co.uk]
Revealed: how Turner began his career copying the old masters [TheIndependent]

More Images and text after the jump…

Landscape with the Rest on the Flight to Egypt, Rembrandt van Rijn (1647). Via TheIndependent

To truly realize this concept, the curatorial team have included many comparative works that have been paired with Turner’s paintings. For instance, Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Rest on the flight into Egypt hangs alongside Turner’s Moonlight, a study at Millbank and Willem van de Velde the Younger’s A Rising Gale is displayed, for the first time in over 170 years, with Turner’s companion piece Dutch Boats in a Gale.

A Rising Gale, Willem van de Velde the Younger (c.1672). Via Tate

Turner is known to have most specifically competed with the seventeenth-century landscape painter Claude Lorrain; in his will Turner requested that two of his paintings, Sun Rising through Vapour and Dido Building Carthage, be hanged alongside Lorrain’s work in the National Gallery, London. Solkin believes the reason for this was because Turner, “wished to leave behind an example for other artists to follow, if they wished to build successfully on the past — the example of a painter who had ‘endeavored to excel’ by gleaning what others before him had overlooked, throughout all the various regions of nature and of art”.

Sun Rising Through Vapour, Joseph Mallord William Turner (c.1807). Via National Gallery, London

Dido Building Carthage, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1815). Via National Gallery, London

In light of reviewing Turner’s unashamed competitive streak with artists past and present Tate Britain have paired, for the first time since their initial hanging in 1832 at the Royal Academy exhibition, Turner’s seascape Helvoetsluys and John Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge. It is said that immediately before the exhibition opened at the Royal Academy Turner added a red buoy to his image in order to compete with the bright reds of Constable’s painting; an act that caused Constable to report to a friend that “Turner has been here and fired a gun”

Original Times review of the 1832 Royal Academy Exhibition, London. Via TimesArchive

Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, Claude Lorrain (1648). Via National Gallery, London

The exhibition will tour to Le Grand Palais, Paris, from 22 February to 23 May 2010, and to the Museo del Prado, Madrid, from 22 June to 19 September 2010.

The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, John Constable (Exh 1832). Via Tate