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Once again, Turner in January: The Vaughan Bequest at the Scottish National Gallery
2 January, 2017
Joseph Mallord William Turner-. Falls of the Rhine at Schaffhausen, Side View about 1841
In keeping with a century-old tradition, New Year’s Day at the Scottish National Gallery will be marked by the opening of the annual exhibition of watercolours by J M W Turner (1775–1851).
In his 1900 bequest to the gallery, Henry Vaughan, a London art collector who amassed an outstanding group of watercolours by the British painter, stipulated that the Turner watercolours must not be subjected to permanent display, since continual exposure to light would result in their fading. The annual exhibition of thirty-eight works on paper has become a much-loved tradition at the Scottish National Gallery.
The display runs throughout January, providing a thoughtful counterpoint to the more energetic celebrations of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, and a welcome injection of light and colour during the darkest month of the year. Recognised as perhaps the greatest of all British artists, Turner was a master of watercolour painting, using the medium to create stunning land and seascapes, topographical views and designs for book illustrations.
Vaughan acquired examples from every period of the artist’s career, and chose each with a connoisseur’s eye for quality. The exquisite works in his bequest range from early wash drawings of the 1790s, to colourful and atmospheric watercolour sketches of Continental Europe, executed in the 1830s and 1840s.