Two paintings by Romantic artist Joseph Mallord William Turner are set to return to Britain for the first time in more than 100 years.
The works, both painted in the mid 1820’s, are being lent by The Frick Collection in New York to London’s National Gallery for a special exhibition this winter.
The Turner on Tour exhibition will see Turner’s oil paintings Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, back in the UK, where they were last seen in 1911.
The paintings left Britain for New York in 1914 where they were exhibited at the Knoedler Gallery, and subsequently acquired by American industrialist Henry Clay Frick in the same year and have remained in the US ever since.
The Jacob Rothschild head of the curatorial department at the National Gallery, Christine Riding, said: “I am absolutely delighted that these wonderful paintings by Turner, one of the best-loved artists in Britain, are going to be returning to the UK for the first time in more than 100 years and will be seen in Trafalgar Square, where they are sure to be hugely popular.
“The National Gallery was the home of the Turner Bequest so this is the perfect location for people to enjoy getting reacquainted with such masterpieces in person.”
Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening demonstrate Turner’s fascination with the subject of ports and harbours. The paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1825 and 1826 respectively and represent the outcome of Turner’s regular sketching tours around Europe that were central to his reputation as an artist-traveller.
Turner visited the French fishing port of Dieppe, Normandy, twice in the early 1820s before painting Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile in his London studio.
He later also visited Cologne in Germany – a former Roman colony and long-time commercial, educational and religious centre – ahead of painting Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening.
Although Turner exhibited Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile at the Royal Academy in 1825, he actually completed it, and subsequently dated it, in 1826, the same year as its companion piece Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening was also shown at the Royal Academy.
Both the paintings demonstrate Turner’s approach to colour, light and brushwork.
They also borrow the compositional format of the grand seaports of Claude Lorrain, as well as demonstrating the Claudian device of using light to create aerial perspective whereby the haze created by sunlight makes the objects in the distance lose their focus and local colour and merge with the sky.
The director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said: “Turner’s glorious river and harbour scenes from the Frick Collection are, through a special set of circumstances, coming to London for an unprecedented showing at the National Gallery.
“I am enormously grateful to our friends at the Frick for sharing their masterpieces with us.”
Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening will both be on display as part of the Turner on Tour exhibition at the National Gallery between November 3 and February 19.