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Turner watercolour acquired for Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives with the support of the Art Fund
Turner watercolour - museum conservators get a close up look.

BRISTOL.- Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – with the support of the Art Fund and the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery - has been successful in securing a watercolour of the Avon Gorge by JMW Turner (1775-1851). The watercolour was painted during the young Turner’s stay with family friends in Bristol when the artist was only sixteen years old.

The watercolour has now arrived at the museum and is being carefully examined by the art gallery’s curators and conservators before it goes on public display.

The work, which sold for £40,000 at Tennants Auctioneers’ Spring Sale in March earlier this year, had been in a private collection since 1951. The purchase was made possible through the generous support of the Art Fund, which provided 50 percent of the required funding. Additional support came from the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery and the Peter John Blyth Art Fund (both contributing a further 25 percent).

JMW Turner was undoubtedly one of the most important British artists to visit Bristol and seek inspiration from the dramatic landscape of the Avon Gorge.

In 1791, at the age of only 16, Turner spent his September holiday in Bristol with friends of his father, the Narraway family. During the course of his stay, the young artist, who had joined the Royal Academy Schools in 1789 and exhibited a watercolour at the Royal Academy for the first time in 1790, spent so much of his time in the Avon Gorge that his hosts nicknamed him the 'Prince of the Rocks'. His sketchbook of this visit is kept in the collections at Tate Britain.

Simon Cook, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Capital programme said: “This is an outstanding addition to Bristol’s fine art collection and we are obviously delighted to have acquired a work by one of Britain's greatest artists. Our thanks go to the Art Fund, the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery and the Peter John Blyth Art Fund for making this acquisition possible.”

Julie Finch, head of Bristol’s Museums, Galleries and Archives, said: “We hope that this acquisition will be of great interest to our national and international visitors. The watercolour will help to explain and illustrate the aesthetic and historical relevance of the Bristol landscape and will put Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and the city on the map as a destination for Turner enthusiasts.”

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