Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time
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Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), nineteenth-century Britain’s greatest land- and seascape artist, depicted ports throughout his career, both in monumental oil paintings and in watercolors. An insatiable traveler and an artist with a deep fascination with light, topography, and local traditions, as well as with classical antiquity, Turner brought an innovative approach to the depiction of both modern and ancient ports. In the spring of 2017, The Frick Collection will present Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time, a major exhibition that brings together some thirty-five works from the 1810s through the late 1830s in oil, watercolor, and graphite that capture contemporary cities in England, France, and Germany, as well as imagined scenes set in the ancient world. It will unite for the first time the museum’s two paintings of Dieppe and Cologne with a closely related, yet unfinished, work from Tate Britain that depicts the modern harbor of Brest. The exhibition is organized by Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator at The Frick Collection; leading Turner scholar Ian Warrell; and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, the Frick’s Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published in association with Yale University Press.

The springboard for this show is a pair of monumental paintings by Turner in The Frick Collection acquired by the museum’s founder over a century ago — the Harbor of Dieppe of 1825 and Cologne, The Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening of 1826. Due to travel restrictions, however, they have never before been part of an exhibition outside of the Frick. While they are widely recognized as significant turning points in the artist’s career, a focused examination of these works is long overdue and will provide an ideal occasion to consider afresh one of the central motifs of Turner’s art. This exhibition will also unite for the first time Dieppe and Cologne with a closely related, yet unfinished, work from Tate Britain that depicts the modern harbor of Brest. As supported by recent technical analysis, The Harbor of Brest was likely intended to form a series of monumental European ports with the two Frick paintings. This trio of canvases — all made at a time when Turner was experimenting with the representation of light — offers a fascinating glimpse into his technique as well as the everyday life of major European ports of distinctly different regions. Displayed alongside these paintings will be two sketchbooks filled with drawings made on site by Turner during his travels to the Continent, the material from which he later developed his canvases.
February 23, 2017 - May 14, 2017
Normal Venue Hours:Tues, Weds, Thur, Fri, Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5
Normal Venue Hours: Sun. 11 am-5 pm, Tue.-Sat. 10 am-6 pm
1 E. 70th St.
New York, NY 10021
Nearest Subways
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F at Lexington Av/63 St
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B,C at 72 St
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