Each January, the Scottish National Gallery hansels in the New Year with the opening of Turner In January: The Vaughan Bequest.
This outstanding collection of 38 works by 19th Century painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, was gifted to the people of Scotland 123 years ago by art collector Henry Vaughan.
It’s an opportunity to see some of the finest watercolours made by Turner, considered by many to be the father of modern art.
Vaughan stipulated the watercolours were to be exhibited to the public “all at one time, free of charge, during January”.
The paintings range from Turner’s early drawings to his atmospheric sketches of continental Europe’s expansive vistas from the 1830s and ’40s.
Thanks to limited exposure to daylight, they have retained their luminous colours and pristine condition.
Even 170 years after his death, Turner’s pioneering use of paint and materials catches me every time I see Turner In January. These are paintings which glow in one of the darkest months of the year.
Painted over the course of half a century, it is possible to track the major developments in Turner’s art in one fell swoop.
Five years ago, I was given a guided tour by Graeme Gollan, senior conservator with the National Galleries.
Under his expert eye, I was guided to a thumbprint on a late watercolour called Venice From The Laguna. It’s looking for this kind of detail which makes Turner In January such a joy.
Starting from today, you have another 30 days to see these sublime Turner watercolours as the low midwinter light of Edinburgh keeps his fleeting skies and shadows firmly in check.
Turner In January, free, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
As you walk up the elegant steps of the Royal Scottish Academy building in Edinburgh towards the Society of Scottish Artists’ 130th annual exhibition you’ll see a huge pair of pink inflatable lungs. Suffering is the creation of artist Yen-Hsu Chou.
It serves as a reminder of the effects felt around the world as a result of the pandemic. Hundreds of artists have come together to showcase work in this great mash-up of styles in a myriad of mediums. Much of the work is for sale. Open until January 10.
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