Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages Through Time at The Frick Collection, February 23 – May 14, 2017

“Exploring a turning point in the career of Britain’s greatest land and seascape painter of the nineteenth century, a major exhibition at The Frick Collection will illuminate Joseph Mallord William Turner’s (1775–1851) distinctly modern approach to the theme of the port. Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages Through Time centers around the Frick’s grand-scale Harbor of Dieppe and Cologne, both painted by the artist in the mid-1820s, and unites them for the first time publicly with a closely related yet unfinished work from Tate, London, that depicts the harbor of Brest, in Brittany. This trio of port scenes is accompanied by more than thirty of Turner’s oil paintings, watercolors, sketchbooks, and prints, among them other contemporary views of France, Germany, and England, as well as imagined scenes set in ancient Carthage and Rome. A longstanding subject in art, the port is a space of arrival and departure that links the city interior and the open water beyond, evoking a sense of journey and the passage of time. Whether portraying the ancient world or encapsulating contemporary life in a specific region, Turner returned to this time-honored theme to explore the relationship of past and present and, conscious of his own place in history, showcase his artistic innovations, chief among them his dazzling treatment of light and color.” — The Frick Collection

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J.M.W. Turner. Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile, exhibited 1825, but subsequently dated 1826. Oil on canvas, 68 3/8 x 88 3/4 inches. The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

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J.M.W. Turner. Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, exhibited 1826. Oil on canvas, 66 3/8 x 88 1/4 inches. The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Turner, The Harbour of Brest: The Quayside and Chateau, N05514

J.M.W. Turner. The Harbor of Brest: The Quayside and Château, ca. 1826–28. Oil on canvas, 68 x 88 inches. Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 © Tate, London 2016

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Installation view of Works in the Oval Room from, Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time, The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

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J.M.W. Turner. Ancient Italy—Ovid Banished from Rome, exhibited 1838. Oil on canvas, 37 1/4 x 49 3/16 inches. Private collection © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Image source: Art Resource, NY

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J.M.W. Turner. Regulus, exhibited 1828, reworked and exhibited 1837. Oil on canvas, 35 1/4 x 48 3/4 inches. Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 © Tate, London 2016

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Installation view of Works in the East Gallery from, Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time, The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

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J.M.W. Turner. Cologne from the River, 1820. Watercolor on paper, 12 1/8 x18 1/4 inches. Seattle Art Museum; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin. Photo: Paul Macapia

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J.M.W. Turner. Sun-Rise: Whiting Fishing at Margate, for Marine Views, 1822. Watercolor on paper, 16 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches. Private collection

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J.M.W. Turner. Dover Castle from the Sea, for Marine Views, 1822. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 15 15/16 x 23 5/8 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bequest of David P. Kimball, in memory of his wife, Clara Bertram Kimball © 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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J.M.W. Turner. Shields, on the River Tyne, for The Rivers of England, 1823. Watercolor on paper, 6 1/16 x 8 1/2 inches. Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 © Tate, London 2016

This image is owned by The Baltimore Museum of Art; permission to reproduce this work of art must be granted in writing. Third party copyright may also be involved.

J.M.W. Turner. Grenoble Bridge, ca. 1824. Watercolor and gouache, 20 7/8 x 28 1/4 inches. The Baltimore Museum of Art; Purchase with exchange funds from Nelson and Juanita Greif Gutman Collection. Photo: Mitro Hood

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. Brighthelmston, Sussex, c1824 © The Royal Pavilion & Museums. Signed ‘JMW Turner’ (lower right) Pencil, pen and black ink and watercolour with scratching out on Whatman paper. 14.6 x 22.2 cm Image taken from unglazed painting.

J.M.W. Turner. Brighthelmston, Sussex, for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England, ca. 1824. Watercolor on paper, 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches. Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove; Purchased 2012 with assistance from The Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation

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J.M.W. Turner. Devonport and Dockyard, Devonshire, for Picturesque Views in England and Wales, ca. 1825–29. Watercolor and gouache, and scratching out on cream wove paper, 11 3/4 x 17 5/16 inches. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum; Gift of Charles Fairfax Murray in honor of W. J. Stillman Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College

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J.M.W. Turner. Mont-St. Michel, Normandy, for The English Channel, ca. 1827. Watercolor on paper, 7 x 10 1/16 inches. The Hecksher Family Collection. Image courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: photo Randy Dodson

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J.M.W. Turner. Ehrenbreitstein, ca. 1832. Watercolor on paper, 11 5/8 x 17 1/8 inches. Bury Art Museum © Bury Art Museum, Greater Manchester, UK

Comments Susan Galassi, “As with so many of our exhibitions, this show is built around major works in our collection and provides the occasion to bring fresh perspectives through new scholarship and engaging programming. The Frick’s harbors of Dieppe and Cologne, purchased more than a hundred years ago by Henry Clay Frick, are restricted from travel and have not been exhibited elsewhere for the past century. We are thrilled to provide our audiences with insight into Turner’s masterful technique and process by reuniting the Frick’s ports, which themselves have never before been the focus of an exhibition, with a third harbor scene from the Tate on a similar scale, along with other port scenes—both imagined and set in the present—in oil and watercolor that reveal how the artist developed this subject over time.”

Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time was organized by Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator, The Frick Collection; Ian Warrell, independent curator and Turner specialist; and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow, The Frick Collection.

Images courtesy The Frick Collection.