Our Turner's Wessex exhibition closed on Sunday 27 September. Since the exhibition opened in May over 20,000 people flocked to the museum to see the show, making it one of the most successful exhibitions in the museum’s history.
The exhibition mainly concentrated on the young and ambitious Turner, at the time he was forging his reputation at the Royal Academy in London. He cultivated wealthy patrons in the Salisbury area including Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead and William Beckford of Fonthill. Highlights of the exhibition included the eight pictures of Salisbury Cathedral painted around 1800 for Hoare – which were reunited for the first time since 1883. Pictures of Fonthill Abbey, Stonehenge and the Hampshire/Dorset coastline also featured.
Feedback from visitors about the exhibition was incredibly positive. One reviewer on TripAdvisor commented: ‘The Turner exhibition is beautifully curated and shows Turner's skills over several decades. He captures the essence of the Wiltshire countryside at Stourhead, the intriguing buildings at Fonthill and of course the Cathedral at Salisbury. He visited Wiltshire many times and you can get a glimpse of him through his sketch books. We particularly liked seeing the display of his brushes, paint kit and fishing rod. The staff were very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. They made the whole experience come alive.’
Reviews included 34 published articles in print and online, highlights being coverage in the Times, Royal Academy Magazine, Salisbury Journal, Mail on Sunday and The Spectator.
There were ninety works of art and objects in the exhibition, the majority of which were lent by other museums, galleries and private individuals. The museum is incredibly grateful to The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; The Beckford Tower Trust; Birmingham Museums Trust; The British Museum; Bury Art Museum, Greater Manchester; Carisbrooke Castle Museum; Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford; The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley; The Fitzwilliam Museum; Glasgow Life (Glasgow Museums); Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston; Newnham College, Cambridge; Leeds Museums and Galleries; The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate; National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery; National Gallery of Scotland; Portsmouth Museums; Royal Academy of Arts, London; V & A, The Victoria Gallery and Museum, University of Liverpool; John Waites; The Whitworth, The University of Manchester; Wiltshire and Swindon Archive. The exhibition was supported by a substantial loan from the Tate collection.
Finally the exhibition would not have been possible without our many generous supporters, including Arts Council England, The Finnis Scott Foundation, Foyle Foundation, The Golden Bottle Trust, Henry C.Hoare Charitable Trust, The Idlewild Trust, Opus Energy, The Sackler Trust, Smith and Williamson, Wessex Water, Wiltshire Council, Winkworth and Woolley & Wallis Fine Art Auctioneers.