Artist J.M.W. Turner's work coming to Barnstaple

Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

An exciting new exhibition, featuring the work of one of Britain's most well-known artists, Joseph Mallord William Turner, is coming to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

Turner in Barnstaple will showcase Barnstaple Bridge at Sunset c.1814 by J.M.W. Turner, on loan from the Tate. The exhibition - and an associated programme of events - will explore Barnstaple at the time of his visit during the beginning of the 19th century.

J.M.W. Turner is probably Britain’s most well-loved painter. Turner is known to have visited the town twice, creating pencil sketches and a small watercolour sketch of Barnstaple Bridge. These works are part of a larger body of work created during Turner’s sketching tour of the West Country in 1813, and the works forms part of the Turner Bequest, a huge collection of nearly 300 oil paintings, around 30,000 sketches and watercolours, and 300 sketchbooks, which are cared for by the Tate.

Museum Manager, Alison Mills said: "We are delighted to unveil our latest exhibition, featuring the wonderful watercolour Barnstaple Bridge at Sunset, by Britain’s most loved artist J.M.W. Turner. This exhibition explores Turner’s connections with North Devon and offers a glimpse into Barnstaple at the dawn of the 19th century, as Turner experienced it. Alongside the exhibition, our free programme of events includes watercolour fun for children, guided outdoor sketching sessions, an immersive kids Museum Summer Trail, and a talk that explores both Turner's artistic vision and the historical context of Barnstaple during his visit. We invite the community to join us in celebrating this remarkable work and the rich history it represents." 

Although J.M.W. Turner was born in London, his father previously lived in South Molton, and Turner reputedly felt a close association with Devon. In Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal, with Observations on Men and Things, 1858, Cyrus Redding recalls the following exchange with the acclaimed painter: ""You may add my name to the list," said Turner, “I am a Devonshire man.” I asked from what part of the county, and he replied, "From Barnstaple.""

Turner in Barnstaple is free and will be open from Saturday 20 July to Saturday 12 October 2024. For a full list of activities and events taking place between July and September, visit the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon's website.