Amazing Turner masterpieces coup for Harrogate's Mercer Gallery

Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery will this weekend unveil a real coup with a must-see exhibition of work on loan from the Tate by one of Britain’s greatest artists of the 19th Century.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 10:43 am
Updated Friday, 17th January 2020, 10:47 am
Coming to Harrogate - Masterpieces by Turner, including The Ruins of Kirkstall Abbey at Night.

From tomorrow, Friday, the Mercer will take on the role of the final destination of Northern Exposure, the extraordinary touring exhibition retracing the footsteps of JMW Turner’s tour of the north in 1797.

The new exhibition called Turner: Northern Exposure will showcase some of the English master’s most critically acclaimed and rarely seen masterpieces in this public gallery on Swan Road from January 18 to April 19.

Presenting 13 of the iconic artist’s paintings along with his two North of England sketchbooks, the show will document the young Turner’s first trip to Yorkshire and the north in 1797.

In addition, celebrated contemporary landscape artists from Yorkshire such as Ed Kluz, Debbie Loane, Katharine Holmes, Anna Lilleengen and Emerson Mayes will be presenting their own responses to Turner’s views and the Yorkshire landscape.

Award-winning Harrogate painter and print-maker Emerson Mayes said it was an honour to be asked to exhibit alongside such an iconic artist.

He said: “When looking at JMW Turner’s most famous paintings it is easy to forget the importance the north of England played in his development as an artist.

"To be invited to produce a new body of work based around Turner’s 1797 northern tour is an exciting prospect in itself, but to be asked to exhibit this work alongside the great artist’s very own pictures is something I’m honoured to do.”

Described by art critic, John Ruskin as ‘the greatest of the age’, in 1797 and at 22 years of age, Joseph Mallord William Turner set out on an eight-week sketching tour; a journey that transformed him into a great landscape artist and 'the painter of light'.

After leaving London, he travelled up the country visiting many of the great castles and abbeys in Yorkshire, Co. Durham and Northumberland before reaching Berwick and turning west to Cumbria and the Lake District.

Northern Exposure illustrates this journey, taking in three galleries in the areas he visited on his northern tour, with the final destination being the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate.

Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first-ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.