J.M.W. Turner Watercolour Of Lulworth Cove Sells For £384k At Sotheby’s


A rare and exquisite watercolour by J.M.W. Turner, “Lulworth Cove,” dating back to circa 1811-12, has resurfaced, causing considerable excitement. It is going under the hammer today, 3 July, carrying an estimate of  150,000 – 250,000 GBP. achieving £384,000

Acquired by Sir John Reid at Christie’s in London in 1928, this hidden gem is notable for its exceptional preservation and captivating portrayal of the UK’s coastal landscape. Turner’s “Lulworth Cove” masterfully captures the dramatic beauty of the Dorset coast. The painting’s bold composition offers a high vantage point, looking east over the textured limestone mass of Stair Hole to the natural harbour of Lulworth Cove. The village and beach are dwarfed by steep chalk cliffs, with the coastline extending past Worbarrow Bay and St. Albans Head, dissolving into a hazy summer distance. The cove is bathed in bright sunshine, with calm seas and fishing boats scattered both on the beach and in more exposed waters.

J.M.W. Turner visited this picturesque spot in the summer of 1811 during an extensive tour of the West Country. He was inspired by a commission from printmakers William and George Cooke to create a series of watercolours for “Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England.” His travels through Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall, recorded in sketchbooks and a poem he hoped to publish alongside the engravings, profoundly influenced his work. Turner’s poetic lines reflect his admiration for Lulworth’s dramatic geology, a subject he was both knowledgeable and passionate about.

The watercolour “Lulworth Cove” was one of the first completed after Turner’s return to London and was published in engraved form in 1814. Its provenance is remarkably distinguished, having been part of Benjamin Godfrey Windus’s collection before 1840. Windus, a successful carriage-maker and personal acquaintance of Turner, amassed an impressive collection of the artist’s works. In 1852, “The Gentleman’s Magazine” lauded Windus’s collection, noting that Turner could be “studied, understood, and admired there… in scores upon scores of choice examples.”

Other notable owners include John Morley of Clapton, silk merchant and author William George Rawlinson, and Reginald Arthur Tatton of Cuerden Hall, whose collection boasted over thirty examples by Turner. “Lulworth Cove” was later acquired by Sir John Reid at the Tatton family sale at Christie’s in 1928. Reid, educated in Glasgow and a prominent figure in Europe’s largest locomotive manufacturing company, was a dedicated collector interested in British, French, and Dutch paintings.

The rediscovery of “Lulworth Cove” offers a rare glimpse into Turner’s genius and the historical journey of one of his masterpieces. This watercolour highlights Turner’s technical ability and his deep connection to the natural landscapes that inspired his work. An opportunity to view this exceptional piece at Sotheby’s London, celebrating both its artistic significance and its storied provenance with great excitement.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (1775-1851)

J.M.W. Turner, born on April 23, 1775, in Covent Garden, London, is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest landscape painters. Renowned for his dynamic and evocative treatment of natural light and atmospheric effects, Turner revolutionized the art of landscape painting, earning the nickname “the painter of light.”

Humble beginnings marked Turner’s early life Turner’s; his father was a barber and wig-maker, and his mother struggled with mental illness. Despite these challenges, Turner demonstrated exceptional artistic talent from a young age. He enrolled in the Royal Academy of Arts at just 14, where he studied under the tutelage of leading artists of the time.

Turner’s early works were primarily watercolours, reflecting the influence of topographical draughtsmanship. By his early twenties, he began to achieve recognition with oil paintings that showcased his growing mastery of light, colour, and texture. His first significant exhibition piece, “Fishermen at Sea” (1796), demonstrated his ability to capture the sublime power of nature, setting the tone for his future works.

Throughout his career, Turner travelled extensively across Britain and Europe, drawing inspiration from the landscapes he encountered. His visits to Italy, in particular, profoundly influenced his palette and approach to light. Turner’s work evolved towards an increasingly abstract and expressive style, as seen in masterpieces like “The Fighting Temeraire” (1839) and “Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway” (1844).

J.M.W. Turner was a prolific artist, producing over 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 works on paper. His innovative use of colour and light paved the way for later movements such as Impressionism. Despite his avant-garde techniques, Turner remained deeply rooted in the traditions of landscape painting, often drawing on historical and literary themes.

Turner’s later years were marked by a retreat from public life and an increasing reclusiveness. He passed away on December 19, 1851, in Chelsea, London. His will left a substantial legacy to the nation, including a vast collection of his works, now housed in the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain.

Joseph Mallord William Turner’s groundbreaking approach to capturing the ephemeral qualities of nature secured his place as a pivotal figure in the history of art. He influenced generations of artists and continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

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