Press Release

Tate announces major funding for Turner studies and the Collection

Tate announces major funding for Turner studies and the Collection: Press related to past news.

Tate Trustees today announced that one of the most important initiatives in the study of British art, the preparation and publication of the definitive catalogue of Tate’s works on paper by JMW Turner, including drawings, watercolours and sketchbooks, will receive funding of £1 million.

The money comes from the remaining £17 million of insurance money which Tate received when two works by Turner were stolen from an exhibition in Germany in 1994. The works were subsequently recovered, but as a result of the agreement between Tate and the insurers, a balance remained in Tate’s favour. Following the recovery of the paintings, Tate sought the advice of the Charity Commission as to how the insurance money could be spent. The Charity Commission discussed the matter with the Attorney General and then took the view that the insurance monies, together with the Turner Bequest itself, are held for the purposes set out in the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. The insurance is therefore available for the general purposes of the gallery and the Tate Trustees are free to use the funds for the benefit of the Collection as a whole.

In addition to the £1 million dedicated to the Turner catalogue, Tate’s Trustees have decided to allocate £10 million to Tate’s recently launched Collection initiative -Building the Tate Collection, the income from which will be used to purchase works of art to enhance the Collection. The balance of around £6 million will benefit the long-term care of the Collection including research, conservation, and improving access to Tate’s Collection Store in Southwark.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, said:

It was a great loss when the Turners were stolen in 1994 and it is a great relief for us to now be in a position to have both the paintings returned and a sum of money which will enhance our understanding of Turner, create opportunities to acquire works for the Collection and help us fulfil our responsibility for caring for it as a whole. This will benefit the whole Collection including works by Turner.

Dr David Blayney Brown, one of Tate’s Turner experts said:

This funding will allow us to fulfil the ambition of every Turner scholar which is to see the works on paper of Britain’s greatest landscape painter properly catalogued and contextualised with the aid of modern scholarship and the knowledge gained from nearly 100 years since AJ Finberg first set out on this task.

Editor notes

Turner Catalogue
The catalogue aims to update the very basic information set out by AJ Finberg in his 1909 Inventory of the Turner Collection. His volume was the first full catalogue of the works on paper in the Turner Bequest. He had very limited time, however, to complete his work and from the outset he admitted that the book should be viewed merely as a first step towards a much more complete catalogue that would discuss the significance of each work, placing it correctly in the sequence of Turner's development, and relating it to other works. Finberg hoped to revise his 1909 text, but despite accumulating numerous improved identifications of the images which he had been unable to resolve, a second edition was never issued. Since the late 1960s, scholarship in this area has resulted in much more accurate information about Turner's working life, specifically of his travels, which has revised the titles and dates of much of the original Inventory. Where possible this has been incorporated into the Tate's online database for the collection, but there is still a need for a wholesale reappraisal of the catalogue information. This has already begun with Andrew Wilton's research into Turner's work up to his continental tour of 1802. David Brown has been working on the period between 1802 and 1819, and Ian Warrell on the 1820s onwards. This project is being edited by David Brown, with Andrew Wilton, Matthew Imms and Ian Warrell.

Turner Insurance Funds
Two paintings by JMW Turner: Shade and Darkness – the Evening of the Deluge and Light and Colour (Goethe’s theory) – the Morning after the Deluge – Moses writing the Book of Genesis were stolen whilst on loan to an exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt on 28 July 1994. Following the theft, Tate made a claim and the insurers settled for the full-insured sum of £24 million in April 1995. In accordance with normal procedure, title to the paintings passed to the insurers, subject to an agreement that Tate should have the first option to re-purchase the paintings for £24 million plus interest in the event of recovery. In 1998 Tate bought back the insurers’ title for £8 million. The released money was placed in a restricted fund pending the recovery of the paintings and from this fund the sum of £7 million was used in 1999 to purchase the freehold of Tate’s Collection Store in Southwark. Since 1994 the accumulated funds have generated interest and the total remaining funds are now £17 million.

Building the Tate Collection
In October 2004, Tate launched a ten-year campaign to sustain and enhance its Collection, with the donation of significant works by leading international artists. The initiative focuses on two key areas: gifts of works of art from artists and collectors to strengthen significant and under-represented areas of the Collection, and the development of a substantial endowment to be invested to enable acquisitions, research and conservation. To kick-start this initiative, Tate Members made a donation of £1 million. With the addition of £10 million from today’s announcement, the Collection fund currently stands at £11 million.