Painting bought for £100 thought to be a lost JMW Turner – likely worth £230,000

 July 5, 2018

A self-portrait by J W Turner
A self-portrait by J W Turner / Photo via Express.co.uk


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“A painting bought at an auction house for less than £100 is thought to be a lost JMW Turner likely to be worth around £230,000.” – reports Express.

The postcard-sized watercolour of Sir Walter Scott and his family at his Scottish home came up for sale at a London auction house a few years ago.

The anonymous buyer paid a “two-figure” sum for the unsigned painting but suspected there was something special about the work and had it examined by leading art experts.

JW Turner - Walter Scott

The painting of Walter Scott and his family at Abbotsford now thought to be by JW Turner / Photo via Express.co.uk

At least two have confidently declared it to be an original by JMW Turner, one of the most celebrated British artists of all time.

The watercolour is now on exhibition at Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott’s home in the Scottish Borders from 1812 to his death in 1832.

Turner, who lived and worked in London, was known to have visited Abbotsford in 1832 as a guest of Scott and the painting is believed to be one of his early watercolour works.

Kirsty Archer-Thompson, collection and interpretation manager, at Abbotsford is one of the experts who has confirmed the painting as a Turner.

She said: “I’m willing to stick my neck on the line that it is a genuine Turner. We believe it to be one of his earlier watercolours.”

Ms Archer-Thompson said she became aware of the possible lost Turner via a contact and asked to meet the owner of the painting.

She said: “I first saw the painting in March at the collector’s private residence.

“He bought the painting a few years ago but has been researching it because he wanted to find out more as he thought there was something special about it.

“I knew it was a genuine Turner. I was completely moved when I held it in my hands.

“It is something to hold it in your hand rather than behind a glass, which is great about my job. This is probably the highlight of my career.

“The private collector paid peanuts for it – a two-figure sum – only for a national gem to be discovered.”

Extensive archival research was undertaken to build up a case for why this was a genuine Turner painting from his life and time at Abbotsford.

Ms Archer-Thompson is convinced it is a Turner because a pencil sketch can still be seen below the watercolours, a classic sign of the artist’s technique.

The painting also differs slightly from the drawing underneath in classic Turner style.

The type of paper used for the watercolour also matches Turner’s use of materials.

She added: “Not very long ago another lost Turner watercolour appeared and was sold for £230,000.”

The tiny watercolour, which is pocket sized, measures at 5.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

In a bid to establish its authenticity the lost watercolour has been subjected to pigment analysis and infrared imaging.

Libby Sheldon, a painting analyst expert, has also confirmed the work as genuine.

She said: “Turner was a master of these highly intricate and delicate watercolour illustrations, two of which are already owned by the Abbotsford Trust. Everything about this little painting feels authentic and consistent with the great man.”

When Turner stayed at Scott’s house in August 1831, the writer showed the renowned painter his art collection, amongst which is believed to be a view of Abbotsford and the River Tweed by Scottish artist Elizabeth Nasmyth.

She added: “This painting is from exactly the same vantage point we believe Turner painted.

“Scott had a personal attachment to the Nasmyth painting and its composition and my theory is that this gave Turner the idea to compose the same scene, which he based on sketches in the Abbotsford sketchbook used during his visit in 1831.”

Abbotsford House Trust chairman James Holloway, a former director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, added: “It is wonderful for Abbotsford to be able to show such a fascinating painting.

“It will intrigue and delight our visitors. To think that we are publicly displaying the watercolour for the very first time since it was painted by Turner is also tremendously exciting.”

Originally published at Express.co.uk


 

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