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Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)—Watercolours from the West Exhibition

Having recently finished a gruelling series of exams, I wanted something light yet provocative to take my mind off of things. It just so happened that the end of the exam period coincided with the beginning of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery’s new Watercolours of the West exhibition detailing eight paintings by the romantic landscape painter Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W) Turner (1775 – 1851), most of which were undertaken when he was just a teenager. The museum pamphlet described the collection as ‘an intimate touring show of eight works by JMW Turner’ which —since the  exhibition is contained in a single room — was a fairly accurate description. A single room felt incredibly personal, unlike other gallery experiences which can be overwhelming owing not only to the sheer number of works on display, but due to the large spacious regions which can make us detached from the pieces we set out to view! Indeed, perhaps it might even be fair to describe the experience as ‘home-like’, as if one were lucky enough to have eight Turners hanging in a spare room!

Below are the pieces from the exhibition for your delectation should you not be able to make the exhibition which runs at the following times and locations:

The Pass of Stelvio JMW Turner
‘The Pass of Stelvio’ – Watercolour c. 1830s
Bath Abbey JMW Turner
‘West Front of Bath Abbey’ – Watercolor c. 1793
Pembroke Castle JMW Turner
‘Pembroke Castle’ – Watercolour c.1829 – 1830
Cooks Folly Clifton JMW Turner
‘Cooks Folly, Clifton with a view of the River Severn’ – Watercolour c. 1791-1792
Avon Gorge and Bristol Hotwell JMW Turner
‘Avon Gorge and Bristol Hotwell’ -Watercolour with faint pen outline c. 1791-1792
River Avon JMW Turner
‘The Mouth of the Avon, near Bristol, seen from the Cliffs below Seawalls’ – Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil c. 1791-1792
South Porch of St Mary Redcliffe JMW Turner
‘South Porch of St Mary Redcliffe’ – Pen, sepia and watercolour c. 1791-1792
JMW Turner View of Bristol from the South East
‘View of Bristol from the South East’ – Watercolour on paper c. 1791- 1796

Note however that no photographic representation can do this small body of work justice. I’d encourage anybody to go down to at least one of the exhibition venues before it closes and the collection disperses,  especially since one of the paintings belongs to a private estate.

– Le Nouvel Artiste



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