9 June 2013

The Mouth of the Avon, near Bristol

Joseph Mallord William Turner RA (1775-1851) The Mouth of the Avon, near Bristol, seen from Cliffs below Clifton, c.1791-2. Pencil and watercolour heightened with white. 22cm x 28.5 cm.  Image: © Tennants Auctioneers Ltd.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – with the support of the Art Fund and the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery – recently secured a watercolour of the Avon Gorge by JMW Turner (1775-1851). It was painted during the young Turner’s stay with family friends in Bristol when the artist was only sixteen years old.

The work, which sold for £40,000 at Tennants Auctioneers’ Spring Sale in March earlier this year, had been in a private collection since 1951. The purchase was made possible through the generous support of the Art Fund, which provided 50 % of the required funding. Additional support came from the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery and the Peter John Blyth Art Fund (both contributing a further 25 %).
JMW Turner was undoubtedly one of the most important British artists to visit Bristol and seek inspiration from the dramatic landscape of the Avon Gorge.

In 1791, at the age of only 16, he spent his September holiday in Bristol with friends of his father, the Narraway family. During his stay, the young artist, spent so much of his time in the Avon Gorge that his hosts nicknamed him the ‘Prince of the Rocks’. His sketchbook of this visit is kept in the collections at Tate Britain.