Press Release

Romantic Landscape: The Norwich School of Painters 1803–1833

Tate Britain
24 March – 17 September 2000

To celebrate the opening of Tate Britain on 24 March 2000, the gallery is presenting an exceptional exhibition focusing on the romantic landscapes and marine paintings of the group known as the Norwich School of Painters. This unique opportunity to see these works in London has been made possible by the loan of works from the Norwich Castle Museum, while it closes for renovation during 2000. Many of these works come from the Colman Bequest, under the terms of which they should not normally be shown outside Norwich. Very generously, an exception has been made on this one occasion.

The term Norwich School refers to several generations of artists, mainly landscape painters, associated with Norwich for much of the nineteenth century. The exhibition at Tate Britain will concentrate on the period to 1833, when the Norwich Society of Artists flourished. During this period its two leaders were John Crome and John Sell Cotman, each distinguished in his own right and very different in character and ambition. Crome was best known as an oil painter, Cotman for his spectacularly original watercolours. At the heart of the Romantic Movement was a new feeling for nature: the painters of the Norwich School created a distinctive regional expression of this new attitude, rooted in their response to the landscape of Norfolk.

The exhibition will present a broad survey of this important movement by setting works from Norwich alongside the Tate’s own smaller, but distinguished, holdings of the School. Besides oil paintings and watercolours, the School’s achievements in printmaking – especially as pioneers of a revival of the etching medium – will be shown. A small number of loans from other collections will support the display, which will comprise more than one hundred works.

The exhibition is being held in the Clore Gallery, which opened in 1987 and houses the Tate’s famous collection of works by J.M.W. Turner. Placing the Norwich School exhibition in the Clore Gallery will bring the further and unique benefit of showing the Norwich artists in close proximity to their contemporaries, chiefly Turner and Constable, and allowing a significant reassessment of their place in British art.

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition (144pp, £25.00pb) with essays by Dr. Andrew Hemingway of University College, London, and Dr. David Blayney Brown, Tate Gallery, the curator of the exhibition.