The painting of a ship off Margate beach had been kept in storage at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery amid doubts of its authenticity.
The painting of a ship off Margate beach had been in storage as previous Turner experts had shed serious doubt over its authenticity.
But now art historian, Ian Warrell, who used to look after the huge Turner collection at Tate Britain in London, is convinced it is by the great man.
Mr Warrell said: “It had been hidden away at the Whitworth really because they were led to believe that it was not a Turner. But I’m convinced that it is.”
Called View of The Beach of Margate, it will be one of more than 100 works by the artist to be displayed at the JMW Turner Adventures in Colour at the Turner Contemporary galley in the resort nest weekend.
Mr Warrell says the painting dates from 1840 when Turner was in Margate lodging with a Mrs Booth.
First called The Phantom Ship, was a part of collection sold by Mrs Booth, – his landladly and mistress – and her son Daniel John, at Christie’s in 1865.
It was bought by the Manchester cotton manufacturer, Henry Tootal Broadhurst.
It was inherited by his son, Sir Edward Tootal Broadhurst, who became chairman of Tootal Broadhurst Lee, one of the largest cotton manufacturers in Manchester.
He was also the chairman of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank and High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1906–7.
After his death it was bequeathed to the Whitworth, which has 18 Turner paintings.
But due to concerns about its authenticity the painting was put in storage after being on display for about a year.
However it has now been relabelled as a Turner by the Whitworth.
David Morris, head of collections at The Whitworth, said: “The painting was assessed by a Turner expert, Mr G Agnew, in 1924, and a note by him says he does not consider it to be a Turner.”
Agnew valued the painting at at £200 and said it was ‘doubtful whether it was genuine”.
Mr Morris added:“Then in the 1980s it was looked at by another Turner expert, Evelyn Joll, who was responsible for a catalogue raisonnee of all Turner’s works. He said it was not a Turner.
“So when you have that kind of opinion as a public gallery, you have to take it off show, you don’t want to be embarrassed.
“Ian Warrell was intrigued by it however. He is the current best expert on Turner in ther UK. I am opened minded about it. He considers it to be part of a group of paintings of Margate, three of which are held by the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
“It would be fascinating to bring them all together and to carry out a scientific examination, looking at things like the pigment of the paint, to establish definitively that it is a Turner.
“We did exhibit the painting again last year at our re-opening, and it is now labelled as a Turner.”
After the Margate show the work will return to storage at Whitworth as the gallery’s exhibits are planned years in advance.
by Neal Keeling