Paths to Fame:
Turner Watercolours from The Courtauld
30 October 2008 – 25 January 2009
... a place of pilgrimage for any art lover ...
Throughout his life, Turner orchestrated his career with fame in mind. Intensely ambitious, he travelled throughout Britain and the Continent in search of inspirational views which would be commercially successful. Following in his footsteps, the exhibition tracks the evolution of his extraordinarily inventive and entrepreneurial approach to making watercolour landscapes. It also stresses the vital contribution of patronage and print publication and the role of collectors and friends, most notably the influential art critic John Ruskin, as champions and promoters of his work.
On view are works from across the artist’s career, ranging from an ambitious early view of Avon Gorge made when Turner was just sixteen years old to the monumental highly finished watercolours of his maturity and examples of the celebrated expressive late works. The works from The Courtauld Gallery are supplemented by closely related loans from Tate and private collections, enabling viewers to trace the development of certain compositions from early sketches and exploratory ‘colour beginnings’ to finished watercolours and published prints.
The exhibition is accompanied by a special display of selected
British watercolours bequeathed to The Courtauld Gallery by Dorothy
Scharf in 2007. This offers an opportunity to consider
Turner’s work in the broader context of British watercolour
painting of the 18th and early 19th century.