JMW Turner’s painting considered a fraud for over a century … is actually a Turner

A painting by JMW Turner considered a fraud for more than a century has been reassigned to the artist after new research revealed that he himself had redeemed the painting and made changes that left previous researchers bewildered .

The oil painting of Cilgerran Castle in Wales is a rare second version of another image of the same view, which is currently kept in Cragside, Northumberland.

For more than 120 years, researchers have debated the authenticity of this second painting since it was exhibited at the Guildhall in 1899, in part due to slight changes to the sky in the image.

Art historians have been unable to understand why the painting, created when Turner was in his early twenties, used materials and techniques reminiscent of Turner’s later style.

Today, thanks to a combination of years of historical research and cutting-edge modern technology, “the last piece of the puzzle” has been unearthed and the paint can finally be added to Turner’s cannon.

This week the painting sold for £ 1million at an OldMasters evening auction at Sotheby’s.

Turner first visited Cilgerran Castle during his visit to South Wales in 1798 and the Romantic painter was immersed in the history of Wales, with its ancient myths and legends.

A long road of laborious discoveries

Julian Gascoigne, Sotheby’s senior specialist in British paintings, explained the painstaking three-year path to finally solving the century-old mystery.

It all started when Sotheby’s performed a routine appraisal for the painting’s former owner, a private client from the north of England.

The team decided the portrait deserved further research and should be seen alongside the original to help confirm authenticity.

Ian Warrell, a prominent Turner scholar, evaluated the images together at Cragside and concluded that they were probably created “by the same hand.”

Mr Gascoigne said: “The last piece of the puzzle… was that this image had in fact been purchased in 1827 from Sir John Fleming Leicester, an incredibly important collector who had purchased the photo years earlier, by Turner himself. “

Because Turner had used an agent to redeem the photo, the name in the catalog was different and it was not until Mr. Warrell discovered a news article from the time the buyer’s true identity was revealed .

Mr. Gascoigne continued: “At this point in 1827 Turner is a mature artist and he recovers a painting he painted in his early twenties around 1799 and clearly feels unsatisfied with some aspects he adds. to the blackboard.

“He made changes, especially in the sky, and then sold the photo to his great patron and the great collector of his later years, Hugh Andrew Johnstone, Munro of Novar.”

Mr. Gascoigne said that at this time in his life Turner was buying back a number of his paintings with the aim of bequeathing them to the nation.

The Sotheby’s team then analyzed the image using a specialized XRF (X-ray fluorescence) machine that mapped out the elements and components of the painting.

The researchers then cross-checked this information with their historical research and were ultimately able to confirm that the painting was part of Turner’s legacy.

The combination of historical research and scientific analysis allowed the team to conclude that the painting had been retouched by Turner himself in the late 1820s, using pigments that would have been available to him at the time. .

Mr. Gascoigne added: “This question mark has hung over painting for years and thanks to the advantages of modern scientific analysis and modern scholarship and the ability to put the two images side by side, we have finally able to answer this question, which is rare.

“What was once an intractable question has now been resolved.”


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