Turner’s original painting materials in exhibition inspired by Mike Leigh film

A pocket paint book, palette and brushes are going on display alongside other objects and mementoes that belonged to the artist JMW Turner.

A new exhibition opening on 10 January at the National Trust’s Petworth House in Sussex has been inspired by Mike Leigh’s recent film, Mr. Turner, and celebrates the life and work of the great landscape artist.

Turner’s pocket paint book. Credit Scott Ramsey

Turner visited Petworth House between 1809 and 1837 as guest of his patron, 3rd Earl of Egremont, and painted many works there. The house was used as a major location for the Mr. Turner film.

Visitors will be able to see the largest group of ephemera that belonged to Turner ever displayed, a number from private collections.

On show will be major loans of Turner’s paintings in oil and watercolour, from collections including Tate and V&A.

Timothy Spall as Turner in ‘Mr Turner’. Credit Simon Mein and Thin Man Films

The exhibition will also include paintings and drawings by the actor Timothy Spall, created whilst he trained for his role as Turner in the film, displayed in the Artist’s Studio, a magnificent light-filled room in which Turner and other visiting artists socialised and painted.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

• Turner’s pocket paint book, palette and brushes, the fishing rod he used in the lake at Petworth, his coralline signet ring and gold watch.

• A selection of books from Turner’s personal library ranging from maps and travel-guides to historic and contemporary literature, scientific texts and books on art. They include his copy of Goethe’s famous Theory of Colour, in which Turner has written his own notes.

• A 12ft wooden easel, recently discovered in the attics at Petworth House, and believed to be the one depicted in Turner’s famous watercolour, ‘The Artist and his Admirers’. It is quite possible that the easel was used in the creation of the landscapes Turner painted for the Carved Room at Petworth House.

The Artist and his Admirers, by JMW Turner, depicts Petworth’s Old Library. Credit Tate Britain

• A watercolour of the Chelsea cottage Turner secretly shared with his Margate landlady and lover, Sophia Booth, under the name ‘Mr Booth’. The painting, by artist Alexander McInnes, was recently discovered on the BBC Antiques Roadshow.

• Rarely seen portraits of Turner, such as John Phillip’s touching late watercolour – possibly the last painted image of the artist before his death, and CW Cope’s oil sketch, one of the few visual records of Turner at work.

• Artist’s studio ‘set’, created by Suzie Davis, the designer for the film Mr. Turner, along with four costumes from the film.

“Turner is an important part of the story of Petworth House,” says Andrew Loukes, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at Petworth.

“We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate his life and work with an exhibition exploring major themes of the film, such as travel, patronage, science, the Royal Academy and colour. We are indebted to Dr Jacqueline Riding, research consultant on Mr. Turner, and guest co-curator of the exhibition who helped us to amass this wonderful collection.

“We have 20 Turner paintings that reside permanently at Petworth House which visitors can also enjoy, alongside countless masterpieces by other artists in five historic show rooms, several of which featured in the film.”

Andrew Loukes in the artist’s studio ‘set’. Credit Gareth Fuller/PA

Mike Leigh said: “Petworth wrote itself into the film rather than us having to think of possible stately homes; it is such an extraordinary, and rare, and rarefied place.

“When you’re in a place like Petworth and you’re saying, ‘OK, let’s pretend it’s 1828’ and you do all the research, and get into the costumes and breathe the air, you really do experience some kind of magic.”

Mr. Turner – an exhibition runs from 10 January until 11 March. Booking is essential, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house

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