Monday, March 6, 2017

PASSAGES THROUGH TIME: Turner Port Scenes: Review By Polly Guerin

Picture brilliant luminosity, turbulent seascapes drenched with sunlit brilliance and mesmerizing atmospheric effects,  and the work of Britain's greatest land- and seascape painter of the nineteenth century, Joseph Mallord William Turner, comes to mind.  We are at first stunned by the dazzling treatment of light and color. The paintings urge use to look deep into the longstanding subject in art, the port, a place of arrival and departure that links the city interior and the open water beyond, evoking a sense of journey and the passage of time.    Image Left: Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile, J..M.W. Turner, exhibited 1825, subsequently dated 1826. Oil on Canvas, 68 3/8 x 88 3/4 inches, The Frick Collection. Photo: Michael Bodycomb.
'Turner's Modern and Ancient Ports: PASSAGES THROUGH TIME' at the Frick Collection, through May 14, 2017, brings together paintings, watercolors, sketchbooks and prints of the master painter. The exhibition has tremendous impact as it is organized around three large-scale port scenes, with 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 the Tate, London, that depicts the harbor of Brest, in Brittany.
      The harbors of Dieppe and Cologne, purchased more than a hundred years ago by Henry Clay Frick, having been restricted from travel, they have not been exhibited elsewhere for the past century.           Grace Galassi, Senior Curator commented:
"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 been the focus of an exhibition, with a third harbor scene fro 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 over time." 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.  Image Right: J.M.W, Turner: The arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, Exhibited in 1826-1828, oil on canvas. 66 3/8 x 88 1/4 inches, The Frick Collection. Photo: Michael  Bodycomb.
 TURNER and TRAVEL With Napoleon' decisive defeat at Waterloo in 1815, a new era of tourism began. Travel restrictions between England and France that have been in place since 1797 were lifted, and contact with the Continent was renewed. British artists, writers, and the public took the opportunity and crossed the Channel in droves to rediscover it. English ports were now being transformed into commercial hubs and seaside resorts. 
    It is interesting to note that the central decades of Turner's career coincided with political, technological and cultural developments that created a new context for his depictions of ports. The advent of he steamboat and high speed carriages as well as improved roads made travel easier and more accessible to a larger segment of the population, including the middle class.      
As a market developed for images of the picturesque sights that travelers had seen or planned to visit and Turner as an insatiable traveler and the foremost topographical artist of the period, was well equipped to meet the demand. On his extensive trips he filled notebooks with sketches of land formations, architecture, ships and people of the era at both work and play. Image Left: 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 Find Arts, Boston, Bequest of David P. Kimball, in memory of his wife, Clara Bertram Kimball (c) Museum of Fine Arts,
The accompanying book, published by Yale University Press is available in the Museum Shop, hardcover $45, Softcover $25.  FIRST FRIDAYS: Museum admission and gallery programs are FREE from 6 to 9 pm o the first Friday of the month (except January). For additional information contact 212.288.0700.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! An adjacent room to the exhibited has a continuous running narrated film that coincides with the exhibit. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's BLOGS at and click in the left hand column on the link that resonates with your interest on visionary men,  amazing art deco women, fashion historian and poetry.

1 comment:

  1. I love Turner and always appreciate your posts. They keep me up to date on what's going on with the New York City art world.