DIE ZEIT, 1975

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Turner’s Doppelgaenger

DIE ZEIT, 28.03.1975 Nr. 14

The 200th anniversary of the birth of William Turner was celebrated in England with a major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art towards the end of last year, somewhat prematurely to be sure, as Turner was born on April 23rd, 1775.

The British Museum, in rounding out that display has now selected more than 300 of the more than 19,000 Turner works for exhibiton. As is usually the case in conjunction with natal day anniversary celebrations, the question arises, “What will the Nation to whom Turner dedicated his works undertake in order to fulfill the wishes of the donor.”

Following his anticipations, a display of Turner’s encompassing oeuvre should be ensconced in its own museum.  Of course, it is neither desirable nor even possible to assemble the thousands of drawings and watercolors and the hundreds of oil paintings all in one place. However, at least a small museum of representative works of Turner’s art would enable Londoners to afford themselves just that: a wing of the Somerset house is presently available. This would be the ideal locale although the National Theater Museum had previously declared its availability.

The question now is whether one permits England’s foremost painter the right of way, or whether the first one to paint is he who was there first.

What effort is Turner really worth had to be demonstrated to the British by an American: John B Wetstone, 26, who three years ago sold off all his goods and possessions,  and ended his activity as a businessman in order to be able to intensively immerse himself in the subject.

Prior to this, Wetstone’s object, and the result of his stalking, was his meticulously duplicated trips undertaken by the Master from the years 1835 through 1851. His purpose being that of determining the exact time, place and time of day of the birth of a number of paintings and watercolors with precision. Interestingly, Wetstone coincidently shares Turner’s death with his birthday and also himself is a painter. It is his intention to to devote the next ten years to a book on Turner and the rest of his life towards cultivating that knowledge.

Translation: Tom Lipton, Vistas&Visions

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