Historic Petworth House in major film

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This autumn Petworth House and Park will star in acclaimed director Mike Leigh’s award-winning film Mr Turner.

The film, which explores the last quarter century of our greatest landscape painter, JMW Turner, received rave reviews at Cannes Film Festival, where Timothy Spall was named Best Actor for his performance as the eccentric genius artist.

Leigh filmed for just over a week at Petworth House, which was the seat of one of Turner’s greatest patrons - the third Earl of Egremont, played by Patrick Godfrey in the film.

Turner famously had the run of the house when he visited, and annexed the enormous library as his art studio, which is vividly brought back to life in the film.

Actor Timothy Spall said: “In the film, the shot of Turner painting a woman and two girls in the library is an exact replica, even colour-wise, of a watercolour he painted called The Artist and his Admirers.

“To be in the very room where Turner painted this scene, to be inside that painting, was an astounding privilege.”

The film also captures a scene portrayed in Turner’s painting, Petworth Park, with Lord Egremont and his Dogs, which depicts the Earl walking towards the house with his dogs at sunset.

Petworth House’s Marble Hall and Little Dining Room also feature.

The scene-stealer, however, is the splendid Carved Room. In one shot, Turner and the Earl are seen studying four landscapes recently completed by the artist. These paintings can still be viewed in their original position today.

Timothy continued: “Playing the part of Turner, in front of the paintings that he created for that specific room, well, I’m always very subjective when I play a part, but the beauty of that moment was not lost on me. I’m just so pleased we were allowed to shoot at Petworth.”

Director Mike Leigh said: “Petworth wrote itself into the film rather than us having to think of possible stately homes; it is such an extraordinary and rarified place, and very special for its light, which is why Turner loved it.”