Organised by Musei Civici Veneziani and the Tate Britain , the exhibition is curated by Ian Warrell, Collections Curator at Tate, and produced in collaboration with Venezia Musei.
The exhibition will be open to the public from 4 September 2004 to 23 January 2005.
The exhibition will bring together around 120 works (oil paintings, watercolours, as well as prints, maps and Turner’s Venice sketchbooks) that chart the intense relation between the great English artist and Venice, which he visited at various times between 1819 and 1840.The works dedicated to Venice exemplify especially important aspects of Turner’s art – in particular, his handling of light. Some of them being exhibited to the public for the first time, they offer one the chance to chart the development of the artist’s own personal poetics. The exhibition also provides an opportunity to compare Turner’s work with that of artists who were important points for reference for him – for example, Canaletto, Marlow, Caffi and Doyle.
This is the first major exhibition devoted to JMW Turner’s trips to Venice. It spans the twenty years between Turner’s first visit to Venice in 1819, when he was already forty-four, and his last in 1840.
Even among Venice’s many distinguished artistic visitors, Turner remains one of the few to find a true echo of his own sensibility in the unique qualities of this sublime floating city. His career was remarkable for its successes and its innovations, yet his images of Venice were quickly recognised by their first viewers as some of his most magical, luminous works. Turner’s vision remains as vital today, expressing as it does the often inchoate and funereal qualities of the Venetian experience.
The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Tate Britain , where it was shown during the autumn of 2003. Most of the works come from Turner’s own bequest, which was reunited in the Clore Gallery at the Millbank branch of the Tate in 1987 (the watercolours had were stored at the British Museum between 1929 and 1986). The Bequest contains all the works found in Turner’s studio after his death: some 300 oil paintings; plus all his watercolours and sketchbooks, which amount to more than 20,000 sheets of paper. It is only in the last thirty years that the full range of this material has received serious scholarly study, and as a result some works are only now being exhibited for the first time. During this period the Tate has mounted a long series of exhibitions exploring the diverse interests reflected in Turner’s output, charting his fascination with poetry, perspective and print-making, as well as his endless wanderings in Britain and on the Continent.