Turner painting of Great Yarmouth listed for auction with estimate sale price of £1.2m

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, with Nelson's Column, by Joseph Mallord William Turner. Picture: Christie's

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, with Nelson's Column, by Joseph Mallord William Turner. Picture: Christie's Images Ltd 2016. FOR ONE USE ONLY - Credit: Archant

From the trawlers bobbing in the waves to Nelson's monument standing lonely along the spit, this early 19th century Great Yarmouth landscape is almost unrecognisable today.

JMW Turner self portrait

JMW Turner self portrait - Credit: Archant

Since Joseph Mallord William Turner immortalised the scene in the late 1820s, rapid expansion has seen the coastal communities of Gorleston, Great Yarmouth and northerly villages transformed.

Once isolated, standing tall by the sea, Britannia Monument is today surrounded by buildings and road.

The iconic watercolour will be given a new home at the end of the month when it is auctioned in London by Christie's - after a glimmer of hope it could remain in the county.

Norwich Castle Museum was given the opportunity to add the painting to its collection but, with an estimate sale price of £800,000 to £1.2m, it proved too costly.


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Steve Miller, head of Norfolk Museums Service, said: 'We were aware of the sale of this painting. However, given our other funding commitments – including the major redevelopment of the Keep at Norwich Castle – we decided not to prioritise this potential acquisition into our Nationally Designated collections.

'This particular Turner, whilst beautiful, is a watercolour painting meaning it cannot be on public display for extended periods of time, another factor which we had to consider. We remain on the look-out for important acquisitions to further enhance our museums and our collections.'

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The drawing was part of Turner's Picturesque Views of England and Wales series, paintings which are today considered some of his finest works.

While it is not clear when Turner visited the area, experts believe he may have stopped on trips up to Yorkshire or Edinburgh.

Art historian Eric Shanes has in the past described the painting as 'one of the most vivacious images' in the series.

Christie's lot notes on the painting say: 'The present watercolour is one of Turner's most accomplished works from the mid to late 1820s. The subject is a very British one, influenced by recent European events, however, it is works like these that have elevated him to the world stage.'

The work - entitled Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, with Nelson's Column - will go to auction at Christie's London saleroom at 8 King Street, St James's, on Thursday, June 30, as part of the auctioneer's Defining British Art sale. Contact 0)20 7839 9060 for information.

Do you know of an unusual item that is up for sale at auction? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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