Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Petworth Mystery 'Solved' --- Day 4/153

Walk: Van Ness, JCC, Post Street Hardware
Distance: 5.6 miles

JMW Turner, Interior at Petworth, 1837, oil on canvas, 35 3/4 x 48" 

More on Petworth - Maybe. Ciwt was researching the above painting she found in her 1976 Abrams book on Turner.  There the painting is assigned to the Tate Gallery, London. and described by the Turner scholar and former director of our National Gallery in Washington, D.C., John Walker.  Walker calls it "one of the most beautiful and baffling of all Turner's works."

JMW Turner, Interior of a Great House: The Drawing Room, East Cowes Castle, c. 1830, oil on canvas

But when Ciwt went to the Tate website, she found the same painting with a different title and a different  year of execution.

Hmmm.  What does Ciwt make of this?  If Ciwt is navigating the Tate site correctly, it appears that museum  re-attributed the painting after the publication of Ciwt's book. Off the top, she believes the mix up could be due to the fact that the Tate was never supposed to have had any of Turner's work if the artist's will had prevailed.  As indicated in CIWT 4/144, there was great mismanagement of Turner's works and funds upon his death.

Secondly Ciwt believes the painting re-attribution is incorrect, and the painting is indeed of Petworth House - not East Cowes Castle as in the second painting designation.  Further, she is quite sure the room painted is the White Library which he sketched at Petworth in 1827:
Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘Petworth: the White Library, looking down the Enfilade from the Alcove, 1827’, 1827
JMW Turner, The White Library, Looking Down the Enfilade from the Alcove, 1827, watercolor, bodycolor and pen and ink on paper

The style is clearly entirely different, but Ciwt sees the same piano moved slightly to the right, an echo of the portrait on the back wall, and an overall echo of the arched ceiling.  Probably she would find many other White Library details upon more examination.

Finally, the Petworth titled painting was done in 1837, the year Lord Egremont died. (See CIWT 4/151) Finished or unfinished as the painting might be, it seems entirely in character for Turner to be reacting to the dissolution of Egremont's life and his own happy friendship with him and his tranquil, beloved years at Petworth.  Turner's life and heart were in complete disarray as is the "beautiful and baffling painting."

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