Celebration of artist Turner at Petworth House

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A unique exhibition celebrating the art of JMW Turner is being hosted at the National Trust’s Petworth House this winter.

Turner’s Sussex will be the first exhibition to bring together the East and West Sussex works of JMW Turner, one of the nation’s greatest painters.

Opening on January 12 2013, it will feature more than 40 carefully selected loaned exhibits of Turner’s Sussex works, drawn from major national collections including Tate, the V&A, and the British Museum, as well as from regional collections and private owners.

The works on display, mainly drawings and watercolours, represent the wide ranging importance of Sussex to Turner’s art. Highlights include a group of the famous small watercolour sketches on blue paper, now largely held at Tate Britain, which were made of Petworth House and Park in 1827.

Turner’s pencil sketch of Petworth House, which he made in the park in 1809, will be displayed for the first time alongside the finished oil painting he made from it.

Also on show will be iconic views of Arundel, Ashburnham, Rye and Hastings and rarely seen works showing many Sussex locations including Brighton, Chichester, Lewes and Shoreham.

Visitors to the exhibition, for which booking will be essential, will also have a rare ‘behind the scenes’ opportunity to see the Old Library, used by Turner as a studio and not normally open to the public.

Andy Loukes, house and collections manager at Petworth House and curator of the exhibition, said: “The volume and range of subject matter which inspired Turner in Sussex was extraordinary, and it’s extremely exciting to bring so many examples together at Petworth, where he was such a regular visitor. The exhibition perfectly illustrates Turner’s fascination with Sussex, as well as the two things which made him one of our greatest and best-loved artists – his phenomenal technical innovations and his sharp insights into the changing social world around him.

“Two fascinating key themes that also emerge from the exhibition are his relationships with patrons and the ways in which he set about making his pictures, and it is wonderful for us to be showing so many of Turner’s works in watercolour, a centrally important medium for him and one which is not represented in the Petworth collection.

“Alongside Turner’s Sussex, visitors will also be able to see Petworth’s Turner paintings in their usual locations within three rooms of the main house, as part of a parallel exhibition, The Petworth Turners, featuring new interpretation of the largest collection of Turner oils housed outside Tate Britain.”

David Taylor, Curator of Pictures and Sculpture at the National Trust, commented: “The National Trust has been successfully engaging its visitors with contemporary art for some years now. For Petworth to be staging an exhibition of a major historic artist, featuring loans from some of the nations most important collections, is a fabulous departure. That the inaugural show in the property’s new gallery will expand visitors’ enjoyment of Turner at Petworth is particularly fitting, given the artist’s central role in the story of the house.”

Margaret Pegley a volunteer at Petworth House, added: “Petworth is a wonderful place to volunteer and it’s very special to us to be adding to our usual Turner collection with such nationally significant works. I know that visitors will be in for a real treat.”

For further details and opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth