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Turner Collection

See the world’s largest free display of paintings by J.M.W. Turner and Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals

Photo©Rikard Österlund

8 rooms in Turner Collection

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows  exhibited 1831

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, which Constable began painting in 1830, shows the cathedral from the north-west, looking across the River Nadder from a point near a footbridge known as the Long Bridge. A team of three horses pulls a cart across the river from the left; cattle graze in the meadows in the right distance; and the centre foreground is occupied by a black and white sheepdog whose intent gaze is turned inwards towards the cathedral as if to direct the viewer towards the building or the storm that sweeps over it. The spire pierces a sky full of billowing clouds; a dark rain cloud hangs directly above and a streak of lightning flashes over the roof; but a magnificent rainbow arches over all, promising that the storm will pass. While the tall trees in the middle distance on the left are shaken by a squally breeze, the river’s surface is already glassy and smooth, reflecting the varied sky. Fresh raindrops glint and sparkle on the brambles in the foreground. Throughout much of the canvas, the paint is handled with a febrile, sometimes even frenzied excitement, especially in the foreground undergrowth, the trembling trees and the Gothic architecture of the cathedral. Laid on with brush and palette knife, the paint ranges from thick and three-dimensional in the brambles, to thin and almost translucent in the rainbow. The picture was exhibited by Constable at the Royal Academy in 1831 but never found a buyer. The painting remained in the artist’s studio – where he continued to retouch it – until his death in 1837.

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highlights in Turner Collection

Norham Castle, Sunrise

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Norham Castle, Sunrise  c.1845

Norham sits on the river Tweed in Northumberland, on the English side of the border with Scotland. Turner first saw Norham castle in 1797, during his first tour of northern Britain. He returned to the ruins in 1801 and 1831, creating work after each visit. Turner made this unfinished canvas late in his career. He uses colour to express the blazing light that merges the building and the landscape. It is one of a group of paintings Turner based on compositions from his ‘Liber Studiorum’ (‘Book of Studies’) (1807–19). This was Turner’s set of 70 engravings he had made from his watercolour compositions.

Gallery label, July 2020

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Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps  exhibited 1812

Hannibal Barca was a Commander of the Carthaginian army in 200-100 BC. He was a celebrated military leader. Although he is referenced in the title of this work, Hannibal himself is not pictured. Rather than focus on an individual leader, this work expresses human’s vulnerability when faced with the power of nature. The attention is on the victims of the conflict, the soldiers struggling in the harsh conditions.

Gallery label, August 2019

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The Shipwreck

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Shipwreck  exhibited 1805

Turner had a lifelong passion for the sea. Shipwrecks and other disasters were a popular theme when Turner painted this. They demonstrated the powerful forces of the elements and the fears of those who travelled far from home. We don’t know whether this painting was inspired by an actual shipwreck. Turner demonstrates the trauma and horror of a shipwreck with dramatic realism. These dark colours are common in Turner’s early paintings. They provide a contrast to the white crests of the waves.

Gallery label, July 2020

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Highlights

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows
John Constable Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows exhibited 1831
Norham Castle, Sunrise
Joseph Mallord William Turner Norham Castle, Sunrise c.1845
Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps
Joseph Mallord William Turner Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps exhibited 1812
The Shipwreck
Joseph Mallord William Turner The Shipwreck exhibited 1805

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