It’s January everywhere, and for visitors to The National Gallery of Ireland that usually means one thing – an opportunity to view the popular annual exhibition of watercolours by English artist J.M.W. Turner.
Turner fans will once again be able to see the watercolours bathed in the weak light of January, just as their benefactor Henry Vaughan intended, as part of an annual winter tradition that has been underway in Dublin for over a century now.
Our friends at the National Gallery tell us that art collector Henry Vaughan wanted his collection to be seen and enjoyed by a wide audience, while also being keen to follow best practice in displaying and caring for his delicate collection of Turner watercolours. In his will, Vaughan stipulated that 31 watercolours be given to the National Gallery of Ireland on condition that they be “exhibited to the public all at one time free of charge during the month of January in every year”.
The works first went on show in the Gallery in January 1901, and thanks to Vaughan’s foresight, the Turner watercolours remain in pristine condition, with vivid, glowing colours that continue to mesmerise some hundred and twenty years later.
This year’s exhibition, entited Turner & Coastal Scenes, focuses on Turner’s lifelong passion for the sea. As evidenced in many of his works, the artist revelled in capturing its ever-changing character, along with the activities of those whose livelihoods depended on it. Visitors to this month’s exhibition can enjoy Turner’s work alongside coastal scenes by an array of British and Irish artists from the national collection, curated by Niamh McNally.
This exhibition is on view until 31 January 2022. Admission is free.
The exhibition is supported by Grant Thornton, Turner Exhibitions Partner.
Words: Martina Murray