Turner’s Timeless Watercolours: Poetic Visions of Nature

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Doge’s Palace and Piazzetta, Venice’, c.1840

Turner’s Timeless Watercolours: Poetic Visions of Nature
1st – 31st January 2004

Print Gallery

The annual exhibition of Turner watercolours runs for the month of January in the Print Gallery of the National Gallery of Ireland. It includes the Henry Vaughan Bequest of 31 watercolours bequeathed to the Gallery in 1900. Vaughan stipulated that the works be exhibited only in the month of January, when the natural light is weakest and at its least harmful. The National Gallery continues to adhere to this tradition, and as a result the works remain in pristine condition. In 2004, the exhibition included a representative selection from the Liber Studiorum print series: Turner's ‘visual manifesto' which displays his aspirations for landscape art.

Turner's luminous watercolours have inspired artists, scholars and the general public for over two centuries, and demonstrate his dramatically innovative style, experimental approach to watercolour, and personalised vision of nature. His fascination with nature's elemental forces which is reflected in the works (Ship against the Mew Stone, 1814; A Shipwreck off Hastings, c.1828; San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, c.1840), skillfully captures the fleeting effects of light, atmosphere and glowing colour.

The exhibition traced the development of the artist's revolutionary style from his early topographical drawings (1793-1802), to his later evocative sketches (1836-c.1840) executed during his continental tours.