Exhibition Review – Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape

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photoInstallation view, ‘Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape’

Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape
Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. 14 Februrary – 1 June 2014

Recently I was lucky enough to visit the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s ‘Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape’ exhibition, which runs until 1 June. Like all of the Lady Lever’s temporary exhibits, it is a carefully curated, compelling show which highlights some of JMW Turner’s most beautiful, yet under-discussed, works. Comprising more than thirty works from National Museums Liverpool’s own collection of works by Turner, the exhibition celebrates Turner’s prolific travels around continental Europe, charting its influence on his work. Whilst ultimately a small show, ‘Travels, Light and Landscape’ nevertheless sheds important light on rarely seen works by the artist, which are united by Turner’s delicate touch with light, colour and form. Of particular interest is the way the exhibition charts the artist’s stylistic evolution from his earlier, more conventionally topographical works, to the gauzy washes of transparent watercolour which we now associate with Turner’s mature style.

Perhaps more significantly, the exhibition coincides with the launch of National Museums Liverpool’s project Watermark: works on paper, which aims to publish the Museums’ collection of over 8000 works on paper online. Dating from the Medieval period to the present day, the online collection will showcase number of highly significant prints and drawings, and in its current form includes a set of Turner’s Liber Studiorum, a set of landscape prints published by the artist between 1807 and 1819. Following in the footsteps of many regional museums who are beginning to publish their collections online, I have no doubt that Watermark will become an essential resource for the completion of art historical research into works on paper.

For more information on the exhibition, see the Liverpool Museums blog.

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