Tuesday, March 11, 2014


These gouache sketches of daily life at Petworth in 1827 would not have seemed very substantial at the time they were made. It is easy to picture them (after the paint had dried) stacked into an uneven pile of wavy-textured sheets on some flat surface in Turner's room. How insubstantial they would have seemed, compared to the House itself, overflowing with color and texture, movement and sound. Yet now they are priceless partly because they still bear traces of an aliveness that otherwise has evaporated.
China Jars

Early Morning

Morning Light


Pink Lady

Red Lady


Fire Light, Lamp Light

Grand Staircase

Red Room

White & Gold Room
These pieces serve also as reminders that the first successful camera-photographs were made at exactly this time, in the second half of the 1820s. Though the technology would not be generally available for a few more years, the widespread practice of sketching  in order to record quick likenesses  was already destined to become obsolete.