Turner and Ruskin

I am deep into Ruskin at the moment, and havemedpope_villa_1808 been reading about his involvement with the work of Turner, whose executor he was, and about whom he wrote extensively. Indeed, it seems to me that Turner’s vices may have been one of the triggers for Ruskin’s “unconversion”, the point at which he decided that perhaps art is not all about the morals of the artist (ok, I’m simplifying). Anyway, I notice in a letter in today’s Times that one of Turner’s paintings is, like the Titians which have now been saved for Britain, at risk of being sold abroad:

Destruction of an art deadline

We must save J. M. W. Turner’s glorious picture for Britain

Sir, In 1808 J. M. W. Turner was moved by the destruction of Pope’s villa at Twickenham to paint a searingly elegiac protest against cultural vandalism. Last year it became likely the painting might leave these shores for ever.

Ruskin, who developed Turner’s conservationist concerns, and bequeathed them to the National Trust, saw Pope as “the most perfect representative since Chaucer of the true English mind”. Anticipating the French Impressionists, Ruskin dubbed Turner the “father of modern art”.

Turner’s The Destruction of Pope’s Villa at Twickenham (pictured) is not merely a national treasure: it is a definitive interpretation of a cultural site of significant importance for the English-speaking world by one of the few English artists who, like Shakespeare, belong to the whole world.

Together with the Friends of Turner’s House, the Independent Turner Society and other concerned groups, the Ruskin Society hopes that Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture, will see her way to extending the deadline for saving this glorious picture for Britain.

Malcolm Hardman (Chairman, the Ruskin Society)

Cynthia Gamble (Vice-Chairman)

Catherine Edwards (Treasurer)

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