Sunday 1 September 2002 –
To mark the return of several key works from an international tour, the world’s greatest collection of works by J.M.W. Turner will be re-launched in a completely new display, Turner at Tate Britain, opening on Wednesday 25 September. The display forms part of the Collection Displays at Tate Britain, supported by BP.
J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) is considered to be one of the greatest painters Britain has ever produced. The Turner Bequest, left to the nation by the artist following his death in 1851, is the largest and finest collection of his work and comprises hundreds of oils and tens of thousands of watercolours and other works on paper. The Clore Gallery at Tate Britain is the home of this extraordinary collection and thus the world centre for the study and appreciation of Turner’s life and work.
Turner at Tate Britain highlights Turner’s astonishing range of subject matter and styles, from elaborate mythological tales or dramatic contemporary events, to a tragic vision of the vanity of human effort in the face of the awesome power of nature. Masterpieces such as Decline of the Carthaginian Empire, Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps, and Self-Portrait will be back on display along with a wide range of finished and unfinished oil paintings, works on paper and personal items from the vast Turner Bequest.
Ten new displays, featuring over two hundred works, explore themes such as tourism, myth, landscape and the sublime. The recent opening of a new entrance on Atterbury Street has enabled Tate Britain to re-designate the Clore Foyer as a reading and display area dedicated to Turner. This in turn allows the orientation of the Clore galleries to be changed. An introductory display, an overview of the artist’s life and work, is now located off the main galleries, bringing Turner closer to the heart of Tate Britain.
This integration of the Turner Bequest into the main collection displays is also demonstrated by the introduction of works by Turner’s contemporaries in certain displays in the Clore Gallery, the inclusion of works by Turner in the displays throughout Tate Britain and the continuation of a series of contemporary interventions and commissions for the Clore galleries by artists in response to Turner.
Highlights of the new displays include Finished or Unfinished? and Turner’s Gallery, an on-line exhibition. Finished or Unfinished? looks at works by Turner without frames. Late in Turner’s career he was known to regularly submit unfinished canvases to the Royal Academy which he would then complete on-site during the three-day varnishing period. The practice of leaving much of his work open-ended until its public resolution lies at the heart of this display and emphasises the modernity of many of his later works. Turner’s Gallery, designed and powered by BT Openworld, is a digital reconstruction of the artist’s gallery as it would have appeared in his home and includes a three-dimensional 360 degree panorama (www.tate.org.uk/britain/turner).