Tate Britain  Clore Galleries
11 June 2007 – 3 February 2008

Tate Britain will mount its largest survey ever of J.M.W. Turner’s watercolour masterpieces in June 2007.  David Hockney will be working with Tate curators on the selection of the works for the exhibition. The BP Summer Exhibition Hockney on Turner Watercolours will showcase Turner’s unrivalled mastery of the medium, with the insights of a contemporary artist who is also an exceptional watercolourist.

Around 165 watercolours from the world’s greatest collection of Turners will go on display including a number of recent acquisitions. Turner’s masterpiece The Blue Rigi (1842), which has recently been saved for the nation, will be one of the highlights in the exhibition.

Turner’s ground-breaking use of watercolour spanned his career. The exhibition will follow a broadly chronological path, focussing on the main aspects of Turner’s output. From architecture to topography, ideal and historic landscape to study from nature, finished works to private sketches, illustrations to literature and works for the engraver, Hockney on Turner Watercolours will reveal Turner’s extraordinary range as a watercolourist. 

At the heart of the exhibition, Hockney will present his own selection of Turner’s unique colour studies or ‘beginnings’ with his own commentary on the processes by which the artist constructed his perspectives and patterns of colour and light, and experimented with the potential of the medium itself. 

David Hockney said: ‘Turner is one of the masters of watercolour. I am thrilled to be working with Tate on this major exhibition and to study in depth their extraordinary collection of Turner’s watercolours. This is one of the most challenging mediums for an artist to work with.’                            

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Tate Britain, said:

This is a rare opportunity for us to mount an exhibition of Turner’s greatest watercolours which, due to conservation reasons, can only occasionally be exhibited.  I am delighted that David Hockney has agreed to work with us on the exhibition. It will show the development of the virtuoso techniques that enabled Turner first to paint watercolours that could compete with oil paintings, and later to transform all aspects of his art by their example.

Highlights will include The St Gotthard Road between Amsteg and Wassen looking up the Reuss Valley (c.1803 or 1814–15); Turner’s beautiful studies of the Thames, made on the spot in his sketchbooks; The Somerset Room at Petworth, and watercolours made on the spot in Italy in 1819 and 1828 like St Peter’s from the Villa Barberini (1819)and Lake Geneva from the Dent d’Oche from above Lausanne (1841).

The exhibition at Tate Britain will coincide with the major exhibition tour JMW Turner in the United States. The most comprehensive retrospective of Turner’s work to be exhibited in the USA, it will open at The National Gallery of Art in Washington on 1 October 2007 before touring to Dallas Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008.

JMW 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 thousands of watercolours and other works on paper, providing a profound insight into his creative evolution.

David Hockney is working alongside a team of Tate Curators led by David Blayney Brown on Hockney on Turner Watercolours. An exhibition of new paintings by David Hockney will also open at Tate Britain on 11 June 2007.  David Hockney: The East Yorkshire Landscape marks the artist’s 70th birthday in July.  The exhibition will include five large new paintings, each one around 12ft long.

BP has supported the BP British Art Displays at Millbank since 1991, first at the Tate Gallery and then from the opening of Tate Britain in 2000 to the present. BP’s continued support, which was recently extended until 2012, allows Tate Britain to create a broad and dynamic displays programme which explores in depth British art from 1500 to the present.