Where to see Turner’s Work
Turner’s work is held in public museums and galleries throughout the world. We give below the links to the larger collections.
In Tate Britain a selection of Turner watercolours is always on view but it must be stressed that other galleries do not usually have their Turner watercolours and prints on display. Appointments to see them should always be made in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
In addition to these permanent collections, many galleries hold temporary exhibitions featuring Turner’s work. The Turner Society aims to publicise these to its members through its magazine, Turner Society News, and in occasional newsletters.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB
The Fitzwilliam Museum owns three early oil paintings and some 55 watercolours by Turner, of which over half were given to the University in 1861 by John Ruskin, writer, critic and champion of Turner. By the terms of Ruskin’s gift, these are not available for loan outside the museum. The collection also holds many prints after Turner, including ones for the Liber Studiorum.
National Museum Wales
Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
The museum owns several late marine paintings by Turner (including ones with controversial attributions) and seventeen watercolours.
National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square W, Dublin 2, Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland holds 30 Turner watercolours bequeathed by the collector Henry Vaughan (1809–99) and others acquired subsequently. By the terms of the Vaughan Bequest those watercolours are on display only once a year, for the month of January. The Gallery also possesses a fine set of Liber Studiorum prints.
National Gallery of Scotland
The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL
The National Gallery of Scotland holds 38 Turner watercolours bequeathed by the collector Henry Vaughan (1809–99); about 30 watercolours acquired by other means; one oil painting; and some 200 prints after Turner. As in the case of Dublin, the Vaughan Bequest watercolours are on display only during the month of January.
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
The Department of Prints and Drawings holds over 100 Turner watercolours, including exceptional examples from the Salting Bequest of 1910 and the Lloyd Bequest of 1958. It also houses a comprehensive collection of Turner prints, with the Liber Studiorum being especially well represented.
Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
Tate Britain houses almost all of the Turner Bequest: the works which Turner bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1851 and which were accepted by the British government in a compromise settlement of 1856. Most of the Tate’s Turner Collection is housed in the rooms of the Clore Gallery, which was built specifically to display and accommodate it, opening in 1987. A few individual paintings by Turner are integrated in the main Tate displays. A few highlights from the oil paintings in the Bequest are kept at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. These include The Fighting Temeraire and Rain, Steam, and Speed.
The Tate’s is the largest collection of Turner’s works in the world, containing some 300 finished or unfinished oil paintings and over 20,000 watercolours and drawings (many of the latter contained in the 300 or so sketchbooks).
For details of the Turner holdings at Tate Britain and to find out which works are currently on show, visit the Tate website and use their online search facility.
Whitworth Art Gallery
Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
The Whitworth holds over 50 Turner watercolours, with fine examples of his early and late work, and a number of prints from the Liber Studiorum.
Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
The Ashmolean holds some 100 Turner watercolours and drawings, the majority of them presented to the University by John Ruskin under similar terms to those given to Cambridge (see above). In 2015 the museum acquired its first Turner oil painting, High Street, Oxford.
United States of America
Indianapolis Museum of Art
1200 West 38th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46208-4196
The museum has an important collection of Turner watercolours, drawings and prints, chiefly deriving from the collection of the lawyer Kurt Pantzer (1892–1979). It is the second largest collection in the USA (after the Yale Center, New Haven).
Yale Center for British Art
1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06520-8280
The Yale Center for British Art collection was begun by Paul Mellon (1907–99) and houses ‘the most comprehensive collection of English paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and sculpture outside Great Britain’.
The Yale Center holds a large number of Turner watercolours together with a collection of prints by and after Turner assembled by Sir Stephen Courtauld. The fourteen oil paintings include the celebrated Dort, or Dordrecht and Staffa, Fingal’s Cave.