3 October 2013

Turner in Brighton exhibition

Prince Regent Gallery, Royal Pavilion, Brighton from 2 November until 2 March 2014

A new exhibition of works by Turner and his contemporaries, showing Brighton’s development as a seaside resort through their eyes, will open at the city’s historic Royal Pavilion on November 2.

Turner in Brighton will bring together a range of works by the artist, including watercolours, oil paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, and prints, along with works by John Constable, William Daniell and John Nash.

The focus of the exhibition will be a Turner watercolour, Brighthelmston, Sussex, bought last year by the Royal Pavilion & Museums service - part of Brighton & Hove City Council - after being in private ownership for more than a century. 

The watercolour was bought with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Art Fund and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation, provided to save it for the nation (at no cost to the council). It was briefly put on show last year immediately after the purchase, but this will be the first time the watercolour, painted in 1824, has been shown alongside other work by Turner after being out of sight for at least 100 years.

The exhibition will feature other works from the same period, revealing the unique character of Turner’s response to Brighton, as well as how he and other artists of the day perceived the rapidly expanding town, at the height of its development as a fashionable resort in the 1820s.

Turner and Brighton

Turner first visited Brighton around 1796, but it was only in the 1820s that he became more familiar with it as an occasional visitor. His most extensive survey of the town took place in 1824, when many of the features he observed had recently been completed, such as the Royal Pavilion, the Albion Hotel, and the celebrated Chain Pier (the first of Brighton’s three piers). His last visit to Brighton, in the mid-1840s, would have been by the new rail link that opened in 1841.

Exhibits will include works from Tate, among them two oil paintings by Turner - The Chain Pier, Brighton and Brighton Beach, with the Chain Pier in the Distance, from the West - plus four of the artist’s sketchbooks containing drawings made during his visits to Brighton and surrounding areas of Sussex. The exhibition also features loans from the Victoria and Albert Museum and private collections, along with works from the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ own collection.

The Royal Pavilion

The lavish setting of the Royal Pavilion makes a fitting backdrop for the exhibition - the royal palace, the seaside residence of George IV, is depicted in the centre of Turner’s watercolour. Turner was a close friend of John Nash, the architect of the Pavilion, and had recently undertaken a painting of The Battle of Trafalgar as a commission from George IV, the only patronage he received from the monarchy.

A programme of special events and talks is being organised to tie in with the exhibition, along with a schools project that aims to give local children an opportunity to learn more about Turner and his legacy, and the chance to paint their own views of the city.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chair of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, said: “This exhibition celebrates the fact that we have brought Turner’s watercolour Brighthelmston, Sussex back for public display after more than 100 years behind closed doors.

“We are thrilled that local residents and visitors from this country and across the world will now be able to enjoy the painting, and see it in the wider context of a collection of views of Brighton by Turner and other artists of his day."

He added: “We are extremely grateful to members of the public who contributed through the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund for their generous grants, which have made this purchase of this important picture possible and to Tate, the V&A and private collectors for their significant loans of works for the exhibition."

Jenny Lund, Curator of Fine Art at the Royal Pavilion & Museums, said: “Turner’s Brighthelmston, Sussex is a tremendous asset to the museum's Fine Art collection. It's such a pleasure to be able to present a display that focuses specifically on this work and highlights its unique place among contemporary artistic and topographical depictions of Brighton." 

Ian Warrell, a Turner expert and curator of the exhibition, said: "Turner’s visits to Brighton were always short, and so his experience of the seaside resort was probably not much different from that of most tourists today, focusing almost exclusively on the sights of its seafront. This makes it all the more remarkable that he could produce such a powerful image of Brighton.  Though it is quite small, his watercolour is packed with details that provide a snapshot of the town and its attractions as it was in 1824. Visitors to the show will have the chance to recapture the excitement of the fashionable and practical innovations that were in the process of transforming the appearance of the former fishing village into the resort we know today. The successful acquisition by the museum of Turner’s dynamic watercolour view of Brighton means that the city now owns a truly great work by one of Britain’s foremost artists.”

The exhibition is in the Prince Regent Gallery on the first floor of the Pavilion and will contain 19 works by Turner and include seven works by Constable.

Turner in Brighton opens at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, BN1 1EE, on November 2 2013 and runs until March 2 2014.

Open daily  10am to 5.15pm (last admission 4.30pm)

The exhibition is included as part of general admission ticket to the Royal Pavilion, concessions apply. For prices and visitor information visit www.brighton-hove-pavilion.org.uk   or ring 03000 290902. Brighton & Hove residents can enjoy half price admission to the Pavilion with up to four accompanying children free (bring proof of residency, one item required per adult (proof of residency for example could be a council tax or other utility bill.) The Royal Pavilion is owned by Brighton & Hove City Council

Notes to editors

Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, the HLF invests in every part of the UK’s diverse heritage. The HLF has supported more than 35,000 projects allocating £5.5billion across the UK.  www.hlf.org.uk

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art, helping museums to buy and show great art.  Over the past 5 years we’ve given £26 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections, and placed hundreds of gifts and bequests, from ancient sculpture and treasure hoards to Old Master paintings and contemporary commissions. We are independently funded, the majority of our income coming from over 100,000 members who, through the National Art Pass, enjoy free entry to over 220 museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org  

The Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation

The Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation is a registered charity that raises funds to support the Royal Pavilion & Museums. Supported by patrons, members and through public donations, the foundation is helping to conserve and protect the city’s unique cultural heritage and bring the very best art and culture to Brighton & Hove. To become a member costs as little as £25 per annum and gives free entry to the Royal Pavilion, Preston Manor and paying exhibitions at Brighton Museum. For more information on the Foundation or to become a member visit www.pavilionfoundation.org  or call 01273 296994.