J.M.W. Turner

Turner and Claude exhibited together in 'Pure as Italian Air'

Unfortunately this excellent showcase of the master of landscape has been overlooked due to its lack of catalogue

The piece in your February issue concerning the insurance of the Petworth Claude (The Art Newspaper, No.111, p.9) draws attention to the current superb Clore Gallery exhibition “Pure as Italian air: Turner and Claude”. Thanks to the solution of the insurance problem the great Claude “Landscape with Jacob, Laban and his daughters” is shown for the first time ever beside Turner’s controversial 1814 “Apulia in search of Appulus vide Ovid”, which it inspired. There is also a large selection of some of the beautiful Claude drawings from the British Museum collection hanging with relevant watercolours and drawings by Turner from the Turner Bequest. Thus this exhibition makes it possible really to study, perhaps also for the first time, the impact of the French master of landscape on his English “follower”. Of the many fine Turner exhibitions shown in the Clore Gallery in recent years “Pure as Italian air” is certainly one of the most important and most attractive. Yet there is no catalogue and not even a brochure, and there will be no record of the exhibition, which, although arranged at very short notice, is outstanding. In this day and age, it is not impossible to produce some sort of catalogue or other record based on the excellent labels in a matter of days and at low cost. Sadly Tate Britain’s handling of this exhibition is yet another sign of the gallery’s current down-grading of Turner.

Luke Herrmann

Market Harborough, Leics.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Tate’s Turner apathy'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 112 March 2001