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Harewood Masterpieces: works by Turner, Girtin and Varley

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  • Entry to this event is included with a Freedom ticket and is free for members.

Friday 18 April – Sunday 2 November 2014

Harewood has enjoyed a very special relationship with contemporary artists throughout its history. In 1797, Beau Lascelles commissioned two young artists from London to paint watercolours of the House his father had recently inherited. One was JMW Turner (1775-1851), just 22 years old and starting to acquire a reputation as a promising architectural draughtsman. The other was Turner’s friend and colleague Thomas Girtin (1775-1802).

‘Beau’ is said to have preferred Girtin to Turner and it is interesting to compare their interpretations of the same view of Harewood House. With its gathering storm clouds and dramatic evening light, Girtin’s version seems much more what we would now call ‘Turneresque’ than Turner’s own rendition. Girtin died shortly afterwards and Turner was generous enough to say: “If Tom Girtin had lived, I would have starved”.

Later, ‘Beau’ also commissioned John Varley (1778-1842), watercolourist, astrologer and friend of William Blake, to paint the new House.

This summer, visitors to the House will have the opportunity to see these rarely-seen gems of the Harewood collection, which due to conservation reasons are not usually on display.

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