Turner masterpiece saved for nation goes on show at Norwich Castle
- Credit: Archant
A multi-million pound masterpiece by one of Britain's most celebrated artists goes on show at Norwich Castle on Saturday – after an eleventh hour Norfolk-led fundraising bid stopped it from being exported.
JMW Turner's Walton Bridges went under the hammer for £3.4m in an auction at Sotheby's last year, but the government slapped an export ban on it to give time for money to be raised to keep it in the country.
Norfolk Museums Service led on the fundraising, partnering with museums in Colchester and Ipswich, to raise the millions needed to keep it in Britain.
Thanks to grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the art fund and a generous private donor, the money has been raised to buy the oil painting for the nation.
It is the first painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner to enter a public collection in the east of England. Initially, From Saturday, September 27 it will be displayed at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
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The painting will then go on tour, with exhibitions planned at King's Lynn, Ipswich, Colchester and Great Yarmouth over the next three years before the painting goes back on permanent display at Norwich Castle in 2023.
Anne Jenkins, director, England: Midlands & East for the 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.
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"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.
"It's also fantastic news that the painting will be a focal point for Norfolk Museums Service's National Lottery-funded Kick the Dust programme to break down barriers, and encourage thousands of young people between the ages of 11-25 in the area to engage further with arts and culture."
Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said: "This is a landmark painting 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, where it will now be enjoyed by a wide public from Norfolk, the UK and beyond."
John Ward, chairman of the Norfolk County Council joint museums committee, said: "We are hugely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund for supporting so generously our bid to save this remarkable painting for the nation.
"We believe we're uniquely placed to share the story of Walton Bridges with the public: Turner's influence on a number of artists associated with the region and represented in its collections, including John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough and the artists of the Norwich School, make it a natural home for the painting.
"The partnership between Norfolk Museums Service and Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service will draw out these fascinating connections while an extensive community engagement programme will ensure as many people as possible have a meaningful encounter with this wonderful work."