Friday, July 3, 2015

Off the Hook After All --- Day 4/155

Walk: Opera Plaza Cinema (The Third Man), Trader Joe's
Distance: 5 miles, home yoga

Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘Study of Fish: Two Tench, a Trout and a Perch’, c.1822–4
JMW Turner, Study of Fish: Two Tench, A Trout and A Perch, ca 1822-4, graphite, watercolor and bodycolor on paper

After 'sleeping on' the evidence:

1. The massive amount of Turner artwork (oils, watercolors, drawings, etchings,...)
2. The paucity of dates and signatures on any of the works
3.The number of forgeries, beginning in his lifetime
4. The fact that he often took extended trips abroad and around Great Britain without telling anyone he was leaving or giving any indication of his itinerary
5. His lifelong sense of privacy and strong desire for independence (both of which, btw, Ciwt finds entirely understandable)

Ciwt has decided it to take Turner's executors and the museums that ended up with the main body of his work (National Gallery, Tate) off the/her hook*.

Why? Well, given his wish to be elusive, it is hardly conceivable that Turner made much effort to organize his oeuvre before his death.  It is more likely that his executors and others who came to his home studio to help sort out his estate encountered a sprawl of paintings, drawings, notebooks. The works would have been in various conditions: some of the paint Tuner used was shockingly poor quality and began drying, cracking and falling off the canvas shortly after completion.  As mentioned, most would have been undated, unsigned with sites unspecified.

Nor does Ciwt now imagine that Turner's finances were in easily discernible order, or any order at all.
Whether there were actually enough funds to build that Turner Gallery and the Almshouse he specified in his will now seems questionable to Ciwt. (There are others who have spent time studying his will and working with the monies he probably earned in his lifetime who also question the sum he could have left).  And Ciwt can see that sorting out forgeries, situating, dating, and other museum and auction house tasks involved in creating accurate provenance for Turner's is an on-going and ever-evolving process.

So, it's off Ciwt's hook for those trying to pin down the facts on this intentionally enigmatic man and his work:  Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘Dog Fish’, c.1832
                 JMW Turner, Dog Fish, Sketchbook, c 1832, graphite on paper

*On the Hook: Days 4/144, 145, 150, 153, 154

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