A beautiful watercolour of Kirkby Lonsdale Churchyard by Joseph Mallord William Turner RA (1775-1851) is to be offered for auction as part of the 19th Century Paintings sale on Wednesday 25th January 2012, at Bonhams
New Bond Street, London. The watercolour of a lyrical English landscape has not been seen at auction since 1884 and is estimated to fetch £200,000-300,000.
In this work Turner has painted the scene of the River Lune from the churchyard of St Marys Church in Kirkby Lonsdale, with a group of children playing in the foreground. The influential critic and artist John Ruskin (1819-1900) so admired the work that he wrote of the area, whatever moorland hill, and sweet river, and English forest foliage can be seen at their best is gathered there; and chiefly seen from the steep bank which falls to the stream side from the upper part of the town itself. ...I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine, or a more priceless possession of true "Holy Land." The view is now known as Ruskins View. Ruskin owned a print of the work which he donated to the Ruskin School of Drawing at Oxford University in 1875.
During the 1810s Turner became very fond of the north of England. He developed a close friendship with Walter Ramsden Fawkes who lived at Farnley Hall, overlooking the River Wharfe north of Leeds, and stayed with him on numerous occasions while studying and sketching the surrounding landscapes.
It was previously owned by Sir Donald Currie, a shipping magnate and major collector of Turners works who at various times owned no less than 57 of his watercolours and 14 of his oils. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London as part of the exhibition Turner: The Great Watercolours (December 2000 February 2001).
Charles OBrien, Head of Bonhams 19th Century Paintings Department, comments, This gentle and romantic painting of the River Lune winding through the landscape is a beautiful example of Turners mastery of light and atmosphere. It is important in terms of Turners relationship with landscapes at this period in his career, and he leaves out the church in order to focus on the trees, river and landscape with the valley extending into a wonderfully misty distance. It is a very pretty, quintessentially English scene with an outstanding provenance.