Thanks to generous grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund, the museums consortium was able to intervene at the 11th hour to buy the magnificent oil painting, Walton Bridges, one of the first of Turner’s works to be painted outdoors.
The painting was sold by Sothebys at auction last summer but a temporary export deferral led to the ambitious bid by Norwich Museums Service with the support of Colchester & Ipswich Museums Service.
Now, heritage chiefs are planning a regional tour for the work along with schools workshops and learning programmes curated by community groups.
Councillor Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s Museums portfolio-holder, said: “We are delighted to have played a part in saving this beautiful painting for the nation and we are grateful for the generous support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund. We are now looking forward to Walton Bridges coming on tour to Christchurch Mansion where it will sit alongside our renowned collection of Constables and Gainsboroughs.”
Anne Jenkins, Director, England: Midlands & East, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, says: “Saving the wonderful Walton Bridges for the nation and providing the East of England with their first Turner to enter a public collection is an initiative we’re very proud to have funded. Thanks to £2.1m raised by National Lottery players, the people of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex will be able to enjoy this inspiring art work on their door step, as it tours around the region.”
Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said: “This is a landmark work representing a pivotal moment in the career of one of Britain’s most celebrated landscape artists. We are immensely proud to have helped save this important work – the first Turner to join a collection in the east of England.”
Cllr Carole Jones, tel: 07824 430158
Cllr Ian Fisher, opposition Conservative Group Leader, tel: 07702 038029
Cllr Inga Lockington, opposition Liberal Democrat Group Leader, tel: 01473 213444
Issued by the IBC press office, tel: 07736 826104
About Walton Bridges:
The painting shows the double-span bridge that ran across the Thames between the locks at Sunbury and Shepperton in Surrey. It is understood to be the first Turner oil painting completed in the open air and led to a major series of Thames river scenes which Turner painted during extensive boat trips during 1805-6.