Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 06 October 2013

Turner And His Contemporaries: British Romantic Landscape Painter & His Brighton Connection

A new exhibition of works by Turner and his contemporaries, showing Brighton's development as a seaside resort through their eyes, will open at the city"s historic Royal Pavilion on November 2.

Turner in Brighton will bring together a range of works by the artist, including watercolours, oil paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, and prints, along with works by John Constable, William Daniell and John Nash.

The focus of the exhibition will be a Turner watercolour, Brighthelmston, Sussex, bought last year by the Royal Pavilion & Museums service - part of Brighton & Hove City Council - after being in private ownership for more than a century. 

Jenny Lund, Curator of Fine Art at the Royal Pavilion & Museums, said: 

"Turner's Brighthelmston, Sussex is a tremendous asset to the museum's Fine Art collection. It's such a pleasure to be able to present a display that focuses specifically on this work and highlights its unique place among contemporary artistic and topographical depictions of Brighton." 

The watercolour was briefly put on show last year immediately after the purchase, but this will be the first time the watercolour, painted in 1824, has been shown alongside other work by Turner after being out of sight for at least 100 years.

The exhibition will feature other works from the same period, revealing the unique character of Turner's response to Brighton, as well as how he and other artists of the day perceived the rapidly expanding town, at the height of its development as a fashionable resort in the 1820s.

Ian Warrell, a Turner expert and curator of the exhibition, said: 

"Turner's visits to Brighton were always short, and so his experience of the seaside resort was probably not much different from that of most tourists today, focusing almost exclusively on the sights of its seafront. 

"This makes it all the more remarkable that he could produce such a powerful image of Brighton.  

"Though it is quite small, his watercolour is packed with details that provide a snapshot of the town and its attractions as it was in 1824. 

"Visitors to the show will have the chance to recapture the excitement of the fashionable and practical innovations that were in the process of transforming the appearance of the former fishing village into the resort we know today. 

"The successful acquisition by the museum of Turner's dynamic watercolour view of Brighton means that the city now owns a truly great work by one of Britain"s foremost artists."

Turner first visited Brighton around 1796, but it was only in the 1820s that he became more familiar with it as an occasional visitor. 

His most extensive survey of the town took place in 1824, when many of the features he observed had recently been completed, such as the Royal Pavilion, the Albion Hotel, and the celebrated Chain Pier (the first of Brighton's three piers). 

His last visit to Brighton, in the mid-1840s, would have been by the new rail link that opened in 1841.

Turner in Brighton at The Prince Regent Gallery, Royal Pavilion, Brighton from 2 November until 2 March 2014.

by: Mike Cobley


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