Next week experts at the Dulwich Picture Gallery will decide if a painting, sold for a song, at a Kent Golf Club auction is by the 19th century English master, JMW Turner. The painting was bought by Jonathan Weal, 54, who works for an art investment fund. It was purchased for £3700 but Hiscox, the specialist art insurers, has now valued the work at £20m. Research, which has taken a number of years, has shown, the painting titled, Fishing Boats in a Stiff Breeze has all of the hallmarks of an authentic Turner work. It has also been backed by a number of art experts as well as scientific tests that looked into everything from pigments, compositional changes, to the signature itself.
Dr Selby Whittingham, a Turner scholar and a former curator at Manchester City Art Gallery, has spoken of the painting as an exciting discovery. He will be included as a specialists attending a conference on the painting at the Dulwich Picture Gallery on Wednesday. The tests will be presented include a report by Art Access & Research, a specialist in the scientific analysis of paintings. Its investigations focus on pigments and techniques whose introduction or disuse can be dated. The oil on panel painting, which measures 253mm by 345mm, is inscribed with the title and the date, 1805, the year that Turner also painted his masterpiece The Battle of Trafalgar. The experts believe the work belonged to Henry Scott Trimmer, an amateur artist and friend who became his executor. After Trimmer’s death, it was sold in 1860, passing through several hands before disappearing until now.
Turner is respected for his paintings internationally. The artists who was born in Covent garden, London in 1775, is also one of the greatest masters of watercolour landscape painting. Turner is commonly known as ‘the painter of light’ for his radiant pieces. He died in 1851.