Turner in Brighton at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery on artrepublic.com

Exhibition running from Nov 02 2013 until Jan 20 2014

This exhibition at the Royal Pavilion centres on the recent acquisition of JMW Turner’s watercolour ‘Brighthelmston, Sussex’ (1824). It’s been more than 150 years since the watercolour depicting Brighton from the sea, last starred in a public exhibition.

The painting had previously been out of sight in private ownership for over 100 years. It was put up for auction by Christie’s in New York in January 2012 and successfully acquired by the Royal Pavilion & Museums for £225,000, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation. 

The exhibition celebrates the acquisition of ‘Brighthelmston, Sussex’, showing how Turner and his contemporaries perceived the town at the height of its development during the reign of George IV, in the 1820s. In the painting you can see how Turner cheated the perspective and rotated the Royal palace by 90 degrees to fit in the Prince Regent’s seaside retreat composition.

As well as the watercolour a number of Turner’s oil sketches and minute pencil drawings of the town are on show.  A battered leather wallet which Turner adapted into a travelling paint box to hold newly available cubes of Reeves watercolours is also being exhibited. Turner’s painting was much admired and widely copied; the Guardian reports that “the exhibition includes a hilariously hideous Victorian china basket decorated with the print.”

These are hung alongside loans from national galleries including the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum and private collections, which provide interesting context for the Turner pieces. The exhibition includes several beautiful sketches by John Constable, who visited Brighton for the health of his wife Maria, but grumbled that the town was merely “Piccadilly by the sea-side.”

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, Brighton & Hove City Council’s cabinet member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: “This painting by one of our most famous artists captures all the characteristics of Brighton in a single, wonderfully detailed view… It is regarded as the defining image of Brighton in the 1800s and we are thrilled local residents and visitors from this country and across the world will now be able to enjoy it, rather than have it disappear again into a private collection.”

OPENING HOURS: Open daily: 10.00-17.15 (temporarily closed 19 to 20 January 2014)

Image Credits:

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. 'Brighthelmston, Sussex' (1824). Photograph: © The Royal Pavilion & Museums

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