The Independent Turner Society
Turner House, 153 Cromwell Road, London SW5 OTQ, Great Britain
Tel & Fax: 020 7373 5560; Mobile: 07918 916381
www.jmwturner.org (being reconstituted)
*** Saturday, 8 November 2008, 2pm Meet at the Strand portico entrance.
Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand. (Tube: Temple; buses to Aldwych).
Paths to Fame: Turner Watercolours from The Courtauld Gallery (30
October 2008-25 January 2009). Entrance:
£5/£4. In addition to the Sir Stephen Courtauld
(1883-1967) bequest, there are 9 Turners bequeathed in 2007. I
still have a few copies of A Study of Somerset House as a Turner Centre
(Turner Society 1979) by the late Dr William Allen CBE and dedicated to
the late Dr Kurt F.Pantzer of Indianapolis, in memory of whom an annual
lecture is held every April in London.
*** Monday, 1 December 2008.
Tate Britain. Demonstration by the Stuckists against the follies
of the Turner Prize. You are invited to join in, dressed as
clowns or however you feel inspired. www.stuckism.com
5 December 2008 – 6 February 2009.
Kings Place (the new “super-lavish” arts centre at Kings Cross www.kingsplace.co.uk )
Albert Irvin – A Retrospective. Some years ago Albert Irvin
RA gave the address at St Paul’s Cathedral at our service to
commemorate the anniversary of Turner’s death (19
December). He was commissioned to paint a picture (now
regrettably removed) for the fracture unit waiting room at the Chelsea
& Westminster Hospital. Getting off at Earls Court Station on
his way to unveil it he fell over and broke his arm, which had first to
be set by James Scott, chairman of the hospital arts programme.
Preparatory paintings and the painted cast for his arm are still in the
unit. The very popular postcard of the finished painting has
unaccountably long been out of print. An exhibition
of Bert’s new prints is at Advanced Graphics, 32 Long Lane, SE1
(by Borough tube and St George the Martyr, the parish church of the
parents of Turner’s agent/trustee Thomas Griffith –
memorials in the church ) runs 11 October – 8
Wednesday 11 February. National Gallery, London.
6.30pm. ‘Painting and Poetry … reflect and heighten
each other’s beauties’ JMW Turner, by Duncan Robinson,
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. The Paul Mellon
Lectures, 21 Jan. - 18 Feb. £5/£3.
Just out! Turner and the Lakes by Stanley Warburton.
The edition is almost exhausted, and so, if you want a copy, contact
the author immediately. 22 Coronation Road, Lytham St Annes,
Lancashire FY8 1BH (tel: 01253 735563). Stan, in his 90th
year, bases this on a lifetime’s admiration of Turner and the
Lakes. An artist and former chairman of the Northern Branch of
the Turner Society, he was the author of Turner and Revd. Dr. Whitaker
(Towneley Hall Art Gallery, Burnley, 1982). He is planning next
an exhibition on Turner and Cotman in North Wales. He has been
invited to give a lecture at Plas Newydd, the James Wyatt National
Trust house on Anglesey, in September 2009.
Kelly Freeman of Dundee University has now made the digital scan of
Turner’s death mask, allowing an exact comparison with the
Cornelius Varley portrait questionably described as being of
Turner. The website detailing the investigation is just being
relaunched – www.faceofturner.org
To contribute to the cost of the investigation Robert Setters
generously offered Canadian $ 1,000. He has also sent me a copy
of his book, Art World’s Dirty Little Secret (Kether Books,
Canada, 2005; www.jmwturner.ca ), which attempts to authenticate the
attribution of a large early seascape to Turner. This contains
many lively pen portraits of Turner scholars of recent times based
mainly on the gossipy conversations of Dr Martin Butlin CBE FBA,
formerly of the Tate and now of Christies. I have reviewed the
book for the next issue of ArtWatchUK Journal
Meanwhile another putative early Turner seascape, dated
1805, has been acquired at auction and subjected to lengthy
analysis. This has been dismissed by the Tate
“because it is signed and is on panel”!!! A further
complaint of the purchaser is that there are hardly any comparable
seapieces on view at the Clore Gallery with which to compare this
picture. This highlights a more general deficiency of the Clore.
The big Turner retrospective has ended its run in the USA.
Numerous blogs by visitors have been appreciative in contrast with some
rather jaundiced reviews by the American critics. This shows how
opinions are diverse and undermines the generalisations made by
Professor Sam Smiles about attitudes to Turner over the generations
based on what contemporary critics wrote. No doubt the average
visitor often echoes what critics and historians say, but others are
capable of independent thought.
The exhibition is now scheduled to go on to Moscow and then to
Beijing. In my letter in The Times (9 September) I wondered how
Turner would react to this tacit mark of approval of Russian
imperialism, citing his follower from the Crimea, Ivan Aivazovsky, who
also exhibited pictures supporting Greek independence. (Other letters
by myself have appeared in The Jackdaw (www.thejackdaw.co.uk ).)
Turner’s Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored and its pendant
(belonging to the Duke of Northumberland) depict the temple at Aegina
excavated by C.R.Cockerell and trumpet the cause of Greek
independence. The first is being sold by Richard Feigen at
Sotheby’s, New York, 29 January 2009 (estimate $12-16m; he paid
$1.1m in 1982). It will be shown first in London and Paris.
The picture was, like Pope’s Villa, the subject of an engraving
by John Pye. That was dedicated to the Tory Lord Chancellor, Lord
Lyndhurst, son of the American painter J.S.Copley R.A.
The British government’s fine words about standing up to Russia
have got lost in the subsequent financial crisis (foreseen by the late
Jean Gimpel, author of The Cathedral Builders (1958) and Against
Art and Artists (1968 and 1991), 20 or more years ago). Now
charities have complained about their losses sustained from chasing
high returns in Iceland. When I challenged the Royal Academy
about the decline in value of its Turner Fund, it claimed (though we
now know that not to be the whole truth) that that was due to the bar
on charities investing money for high (and so risky) returns, a bar
causing the depreciation of capital over the years (letter from its
then Secretary in The Times, 15 June 1990). Now charities want
compensation for taking such risks!
Among the casualties is Lord (Dennis) Stevenson of Coddenham, who has
been chopped as chairman of HBOS for “failing to see that his
chief executive was too reliant on fast-imploding UK housing
market” (Daily Telegraph). He had also failed to see that the
chief executive had no banking experience. When I challenged him about
the treatment of the Turner Bequest at a Tate press conference (he was
then chairman of its board), he gave an evasive answer and saw to it
that I was not invited again. He gave an even more dusty answer
to a friend of his, the late Nicholas Meinertzhagen, who questioned him
on the same matter in private.
Robert Walmsley, who is founding a Ruskin Society in Paris, has
sent details of the conference held in Venice (Scuola Grande di S.Rocco
and Venice International University), 25-27 September, Ruskin, Venice
& C19 Travel. This was sponsored by the Ruskin Project at
Lancaster University and embraced a wide range of Ruskinian
topics. Two papers dealt with Turner: “Lessons of
Multiple Perspective: Ruskin, Turner and the Aspiration of
Venice” by Carmen Casaliggi (University of Limerick); and
“The Magical Play of Sunlight in Venice: An Enchanting
Source for Ruskin and Turner” by Neshan Ermekçioğlu
(Hacettepe University, Turkey). The obituary of Professor Michael
Mallett of Warwick University, who was associated with Venice in Peril
and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation (a benefactor of our
research), and who received an Hon. D.Litt from Warwick last year along
with Lady (Frances) Clarke, appeared in The Independent (14 October).
A new book has been published by Jacques Poitras, Beaverbrook: A
Shattered Legacy (2008 Best Atlantic Published Book Award). This
is an account of the dispute between the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in New
Brunswick, Canada, and the UK Beaverbrook Foundation over the paintings
left to the gallery by the Beaver, most notably The Fountain of
Indolence by Turner and an early work by Lucian Freud. A post on
the controversy was made on 9 August by Craig Scott, Toronto gallery
owner and professor of law (http://craigscottgallery.blogspot.com ),
and, besides, friend of Professor David Waterhouse, formerly of the
British Museum and descendant of Turner’s cousin and nemesis,
Jabez Tepper. The book appeared before the result of the appeal
in the arbitration proceedings.
From J.J.Brown I have received a copy of the chapter on
“Turner in Southwold” in Southwold: An Earthly Paradise by
Geoffrey Munn FSA, managing director of Wartskis, and frequent
performer on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. Drawings from TB
CCIX (?) are identified as representing Southwold, a few miles north of
the lost port of Dunwich, Turner’s watercolour of which is at
Manchester Art Gallery. Our booklet on Turner's Essex,
Hertfordshire and Suffolk, which will contain much new matter, is still
in the chrysalis stage.
Yet another claimant to be a descendant of Turner has contacted
us. This is a woman in California, descended from James Turner,
born in 1823 or 1828, reputedly the son of Turner by Hannah
Danby. He emigrated as a teenager, and established a meat packing
business at Chicago. Tim Marshall has been unable to find
anything to substantiate this claim.
Professor Sir Curtis Price, the American Principal of the Royal Academy
of Music, is the new Warden of New College, Oxford. He discovered
that Turner had been a scene painter at the Pantheon Opera House.
The Pantheon branch of Marks & Spencer has Turner’s
watercolour of the opera house ruins.
Sir Nicholas Serota related in September that the legacy of Henry
Moore, President of the Turner Society 1975-86, had provided £26m
in grants to the arts world.
The Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool, is the new (albeit
Victorian, by Waterhouse) home of the University of Liverpool’s
art collection, which includes Turner’s The Eruption of the
Souffrier Mountains and 5 watercolours ranging from the naturalism
of Ambleside Mill (1798) to the wizardry of Mount St
Michael (1836). The fine art is on the first floor beneath the
Tate Hall and museum.
The latest minister responsible for museums (amongst much else) is Mrs
Barbara Follett (hobbies: Scrabble, photography and Star Trek).
Sadly she has shown no interest in Turner, though her first husband
bore that name. (I met her fourth, Ken Follett, at the Gimpel
salon, when he was looking embarrassed by the size of his first
£1m advance). Another junior minister in the Department of
Culture is shared with Lord Mandelson’s department of trade, an
indication of government priorities for the arts, helping explain the
eagerness to despatch the Turner Bequest round the world and to forge
links with Russian plutocrats. www.culture.gov.uk
www.turnermuseum.org The Turner Museum, Florida, U.S.A.
www.spirit007genius.com Douglass Montrose-Graem, Founder of Turner Museum
www.tate.org.uk/turnerww Turners worldwide
www.turnersociety.org.uk The Turner Society (1975)
The Independent Turner Society (temporarily at
The Setters Turners
The Dundee Turner portraits investigation
www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/centres/ruskin The Ruskin Centre, Lancaster University
www.lancs.ac.uk/users/ruskinlib/ The Ruskin Library, Lancaster University
www.brantwood.org.uk Brantwood, Coniston
Wordsworth Museum & Art Gallery, Dove Cottage
Musée de la Vie Romantique, Maison Renan-Scheffer,
Casa e Gipsoteca Canoviana, Possagno
www.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen
Museo Vela, Ligornetto, Switzerland
Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris
Musée National Auguste Rodin, Paris
www.wattsgallery.org.uk Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey, UK
www.musee-picasso.fr Musée Picasso, Paris
Selby Whittingham, 28 October 2008.