PROPERTY FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF RICHARD L. FEIGEN, NEW YORK
Purchased from Turner, probably early in 1823, by Messers. Hurst and Robinson;
Both their business and this painting were acquired by Henry Graves in 1827;
Purchased from Henry Graves by Wynn Ellis circa 1836;
His sale, London, Christie's, May 6, 1876, lot 121, to Goupil (on behalf of Anthony Gibbs);
By descent to Lord Wraxall;
Anonymous Sale, London, Christie's, July 16, 1982, lot 78, where purchased by the present collector.
London, Royal Academy, 1816, no. 55 as 'The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius, Restored';
London, British Institution, 1853, no. 169;
Washington, National Gallery of Art; Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, J.M.W. Turner, October 1, 2007 - September 21, 2008, no. 40.
J. Ruskin, Modern Painters, vol. I, 1843 (for subsequent volumes see 1846, 1856 and 1860;
references are given to the Library Edition of 1903-12). Iii, p. 2410;
J. Burnet, Turner and his Works, London 1852 (second edition 1859);
P. Cunningham, 'The Memoir' in Burnet London 1852. pp. 29, 42, 44, 114, no. 122;
Dr Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 Vols., 1854; with a supplementary volume Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, 1857. ii, p. 298;
W. Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., 2 vols., London 1862 (second edition 1877). Ii, p. 400;
W. Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., second edition of 1862 work, in one volume,1877. pp. 574, 598;
P. G. Hamerton, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., New York 1879 (new edition with more reproductions
C.F. Bell, A list of the Works contributed to Public Exhibitions by J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London 1901, p 98,no.136;
Sir Walter Armstrong, Turner, London 1902, p. 217;
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., I, London 1908 (vol.ii appeared in 1913), pp. xlv, lx, 16; ii, 1913, pp.194, 208, 358;
A.J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., second edition of work of 1939 revised by Hilda F. Finberg, Oxford 1961, pp. 241, 277, 290, 306, 477, no. 195;
J. Rothenstein and Martin Butlin, Turner, London 1964, p. 32;
J. Lindsay, J.M.W. Turner, His Life and Work, A Critical Biography, London 1966, pp. 184, 200, 206, 209;
J. Lindsay, The Sunset Ship; The Poems of J.M.W. Turner, 1966, pp. 60-61, 82;
A. Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, pp. 135, 214;
J. Gage (ed.), Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 1980, pp. 88, no. 2, 117;
J. Gage, 'Turner and the Greek Spirit', Turner Studies, vol I, no. 2, 1981, pp. 14-23;
S. Whittingham, 'Turner and the Greeks', Turner Society News no. 20 January 1981, pp. 4;
M. Butlin, 'A Masterpiece Rediscovered: Turner's The Temple of Panellenius restored,' Christie's Review of the Season, 1982, pp. 38-40;
M. Kitson, 'Turner and Claude', Turner Studies, vol. II, no. 2, Winter 1983, p. 11;
J. Gage, 'Le roi de la lumiere', exhibition catalogue, Paris 1983-4, pp. 208-210, fig. 287;
M. Butlin & E. Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, Revised edition, New Haven and London, 1984, p.97, no.133, pl.138;
J. Gage, J.M.W. Turner RA; A Wonderful Range of Mind, New Haven and London 1987, p. 208-210, fig. 287;
K. Nicholson, Turner's Classical Landscapes: Myth and Meaning, Princeton 1990, pp. 128-131;
E. Shanes, Turner's Human Landscapes, London, 1990, p. 214-215, fig. 141;
B. Brown, Turner and Byron, exhibition catalogue, London 1992, pp. 22, 88;
G. Finley, 'J.M.W. Turner and the Legacy of Greece', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, November 1995, pp.187-194
G. Finley, The Angel in the Sun, Turner's Vision of History, Montreal 1999, p. 65;
E. Shanes, Turner: The Life and Masterworks, New York 2004, p. 30;
S. Smiles, The Turner Book, London 2006, p. 132;
N. Moorby, in I. Warrel (ed.), J.M.W. Turner, London 2007, p. 71, cat. no. 40, reproduced
The golden glow of the rising sun effuses this Mediterranean landscape, and the brilliance of this light begins to reveal the details of architecture, people, animals and fauna, and the azure blue of the Mediterranean beyond. It is a scene which is unmistakably and recognisably classical, and on closer inspection, the architecture and the sculpture and engravings which decorate it reveal dedications to Greek gods. A group of people in classical dress of togas and tunics joyously process towards the distant temples. A small white goat is drawn along with the procession having been separated from others which graze nearby. This is clearly no ordinary day, but a moment on a sacred day, when this happy society celebrate their contentment and good fortune and process to the temple.
It is immediately obvious that this is a painting specifically conceived and created to impress on every possible level; the considerable scale, the exuberance and romanticism of the subject matter and the sheer brilliance and finesse of the execution. In 1816 when this painting was first exhibited, Turner was aged forty-one and at the height of his powers. Then known as Britain's most famous living artist his paintings were the main attraction of the annual public exhibition at the Royal Academy. Turner was ambitious and had to impress and with the Temple of Jupiter Panellenius, he did just that.
The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy on the west wall alongside a companion painting. They were considered so novel and exciting that they appeared "like two guineas fresh from the mint; yellow, shining, gorgeous and stirling."1 Another viewer marvelled at Turner's accomplishment and confirmed that, "the grace and grandeur of these pieces must strike every eye."2
Nearly two hundred years later the esteem for this painting had in no way diminished, and it was recently praised in the most complimentary terms, "Turner shows himself the greatest poet of painting ever to turn his eye towards Greece."3
More recently, the painting was singled out time and again and consistently selected as a highlight by the press from over 150 paintings and watercolours from throughout his career which were on display at the magnificent Turner exhibition in Washington, Dallas and New York.
Within the context of Turner's career the painting represents the beginning of historical themes which depict the rise and fall of civilisations. Such themes were to fascinate Turner and dominate his output for the next twenty years. The Greek theme is important as it demonstrates the contemporary affinity between two of the most influential British figures of the nineteenth century Romantic movement, Turner and Lord Byron. Furthermore as the eminent historian Robin Lane Fox explains in fascinating detail in the following pages, this painting is a major testimony to Turner's engagement with the political and cultural ideals of Philhellenism and remains an enduring commitment to the value of freedom and its classical, western roots.
The painting's significance has been fully appreciated by each owner since it left Turner's ownership. In 1823, it was reported that 'Turner's large and beautiful picture of The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius has been purchased for a very considerable sum.'4
James Miller recounts the prestigious provenance of this painting as ownership was transferred during nearly two centuries, understandably each time at great expense.
At the 1816 Royal Academy exhibition the painting was exhibited with the full title, The Temple of Panellenius Restored. The additional word 'restored' emphasises that its inherent message is clear when paired with a modern view of the same site but in its current state of ruin, the View of the Temple of Panellenius, in the Island of Aegina, with the Greek National Dance of the Romaika: the Acropolis of Athens in the Distance. Painted from a sketch taken by H. Gally Knight Esq. in 1810 (Fig.1, Duke of Northumberland Collection, Alnwick Castle).
Both paintings depict the Temple of Jupiter Panellenius, the temple of Jupiter the God of all the Greeks, and call attention to the need to protect ancient art, by juxtaposing the pristine state of the temple complete with Turner's reconstruction of the pediment sculptures in this painting, with its distressed condition in modern times. Together they illustrate the Turks recent responsibility not only for the barbarous oppression of the Greeks, but for the unconscionable pilfering of the remains of Greek temples. Indeed whilst these paintings were on exhibition, the Committee of the House of Commons was meeting to consider the expediency of purchasing the Parthenon sculptures from Lord Elgin for the nation to save their preservation.
In the recently published Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Lord Byron wrote with feeling of the difference between the glory of ancient Greece and its present ignominious state under the oppressive rule of the Turks:
"Fair Greece! Sad relic of departed worth!
Immortal, though no more; though fallen, great!
Who now shall lead they scatter'd children forth,
And long, accustom'd bondage uncreate?"5
Both the poem and this painting were conceived at a time when Europe had witnessed the recent French and American revolutions spreading the ideology of political liberty. Turner and others such as the poets Keats, Southey, Shelley and in particular Lord Byron inherited a political idealism and developed Romantic sensibilities attuned to and enlived by ideas of freedom and liberation from oppression. It was clearly the plight of Greece in particular that brings this painting under consideration alongside the contemporary poetry of Lord Byron, whose own travels and subsequent death in the campaign for Greek independence became a source of moving fascination.
Byron's 'truth of history... and of place..' his habit of approaching places through their history and associations, evoking their past and present condition through a few nostalgic images, were also Turner's methods. In this painting and the companion, Turner like Byron balanced historical opposites in ways that were intended to enlarge the public's vision and understanding. Turner was captivated by the beauty that clung to the fading ruins of the past and the national aspirations that survived the heaviest oppression. He was to repeat the comparative theme in subsequent paintings which reminded the public of the corruption and cruelty that had also accompanied the splendours and supposed freedoms of the Roman Empire or the Venetian Republic.6 Turner and Byron missed none of the lessons to be drawn from the fate of Napoleon, whose shadow now lay over Europe.
Turner's initial introduction to the Classical world was transmitted through Sir Joshua Reynolds at the Royal Academy where Turner had studied since 1789 and became a full Academician ten years later. In the thirteenth Discourse, Reynolds had placed landscape painters on an equal footing with painters of history and poets, provided they explored ancient subjects thematically: "a landskip thus conducted, under the influence of a poetical mind, will have the same superiority over the more ordinary and common views..." he continued, "and such a picture would make a more forcible impression on the mind than the real scenes, were they presented before us."7
Through patrons of an older generation like Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Turner was able to see such classical paintings referred to by Reynolds in the paintings by Claude, Nicholas and Gaspar Poussin (and their English follower Richard Wilson) and would have been able to read the poetry of Horace, Ovid and Virgil.8 His desire to go beyond the appearance of nature into a realm of historical ideas accessed through poetry, myths and legends and also through Old Master paintings, testifies to the imperative need he felt for a new definition of landscape paintings – as well as his commitment to articulating it.
Turner's interest in Greece was consistent throughout his career and included works in various medium and scale which commenced early in the century for example; Jason, 1802 (Tate Gallery), The Goddess of Discord Choosing the Apple of Contention in the Garden of the Hesperides, 1806 (Tate Gallery), Apollo and Python, 1811 (Tate Gallery) and the large watercolour of Chryses, 1811 (Private Collection).9
The Greek subject matter of these works including this painting, also demonstrates via their narrative thread one of the more intimate and accessible 'portraits' of Turner that we can hope to have. Notoriously private, Turner reveals something of his inner self though his reinterpretation of Greek stories concerning his preferred cast of ancient characters.
Though Turner never travelled to Greece he clearly managed to capture the essence of the Mediterranean. The significance of every detail was fully appreciated by Turner's audience who praised this painting as 'a clear, well-painted picture of the British Claude, that embraces the beauties of a first rate landscape painter, with the knowledge of a professed architect,' the figures within which 'form valuable accessories and are beautifully and gracefully rendered.'10 As George Basevi later recalled in a letter in John Soane, "to convey to you an idea of the colouring of Greece is impossible, it would be first necessary to shew the sun which glows in this climates. Lord Byron has done all that Poetry can do, but even he is very far behind; the dark blue sky, the deep blue sea are beyond the reach of art. I now value our artist Turner more than ever."11
As Turner's audience appreciated at the very first exhibition, this painting accomplishes a genuinely modern revision of classical landscape and his historical awareness endows this painting with a provocative power above and beyond its arresting visual appeal. The recent liberation of Europe from the tyranny of Napoleon and his armies would have ensured that Turner's audience clearly understood and empathised with the Greek participants in this painting presented at a time of freedom before they were subjected to oppression under the Turks as presented in the companion painting. The Greek theme of this painting allowed Turner to articulate a formal and narrative composition that could forcefully argue the significance of historical landscape painting as a modern means of expression.
The History of the Painting
by James Miller
In 1910 George Abraham Gibbs, later 1st Baron Wraxall, commissioned a catalogue of his paintings. The ensuing volume, Catalogue of Pictures and Drawings at Tyntesfield took the reader on a tour of this now celebrated house. Today, the vast majority of these paintings still hang in the same positions. The only significant gap is that left by the greatest of all pictures that the family owned, that offered here, The Temple of Jupiter Panellius restored. One of the reasons for the catalogue was that Gibbs and his wife, the Hon. Victoria Florence de Burgh, had finally completed their transformation of Tyntesfield which culminated in the creation of a grand drawing room in the Venetian style. Here pride of place was given to Turner's great picture. It would have been beautifully lit by the run of windows opposite which looked out first across stunning terraced gardens, then further to the verdant valley of the River Yeo. Turner's painting was heralded by one of his great English predecessor, Lake Nemi by Richard Wilson. To its right above the fireplace specially commissioned in Venice, hung William Etty's masterpiece Venus and her Satellites; balancing it on the far side St. Michael's Mount by Creswick and Ansdell and beyond yet another Wilson, this time his View of Rome. A spectacular display, but even in such company the Turner shone out as the masterpiece.
The painting had been acquired for the collection some thirty years earlier by George Gibbs' father, Anthony. Here was a collector whose great discernment and wide interests were to have such an impact on the art and architecture of Tyntesfield. The eldest son of William Gibbs, who had originally bought the estate in the 1840s, he was in the envious financial position to commission or acquire what appealed to his mind or eye. The family by that time had become one of the wealthiest in Britain, secure on the success of their involvement in the guano trade. The origin of this financial position may have led to the sneering ditty "Mr Gibbs made his dibbs, selling the turds of foreign birds", but the wealth was real enough. It had enabled William Gibbs to bankroll the Oxford Movement (the re-formation of the Church of England and its buildings), paying in large part for Keble College: it also led to the purchase of Tyntesfield (Fig. 2) which he transformed into one of the greatest of Victorian houses. Here his large family grew up to the incessant noise of builders and the constant arrival of works of art – paintings from Spain, sculpture from Rome and furniture created in the wake of the Great Exhibition. Anthony was born in 1841, educated at home until he went to Radley in 1854, he went up to Oxford in 1862. It was at Oxford that his artistic taste was nurtured and expanded. By good fortune he had entered the most artistically forward looking of Colleges, Exeter, where later William Morris and Burne-Jones were to study, and where the young Gilbert Scott was building both a new chapel and a new library. Oxford could not have been more aesthetically exciting: the young Pre-Raphaelites were busy frescoing the Union; Ruskin was supervising the building of the new University Museum; and Thomas Coombes was a constant support to young artists at his base at the Oxford University Press.
After Oxford, Anthony might have joined the family business but his father recognised his talents lay elsewhere and instead of the professional life he became a country landowner and connoisseur. He travelled widely. In 1868 for instance he visited Russia, Germany, Denmark and Sweden before spending his summer at San Remo on the Italian Riviera. His father gave him Chastleton which bordered Tyntesfield to the west. His collection was growing by the late 1860s and gathered pace after Henry Woodyer comprehensively remodelled the old house in the 1870s. Fortunately a series of photographs survive, taken in 1885, which show the new rooms dense with treasures – paintings both British and Old Masters, works of art including majolica and enamelled glass, idiosyncratic furniture devised by Barketon and Kroll and James Plucknett. The Turner formed part of this collection created by a man not simply wealthy and with a taste for the arts but of a connoisseur with strong passions and discernment.
Like many of his generation, Anthony Gibbs bought at auction, often through dealers. His Temple Of Osiris at Philae by Muller, came from the Grant Collection, his Goodall from the Murrieta Collection, his Van der Neer from the Levi sale at Christie's in 1878 and his Turner watercolours from Munro of Novar sales. Similarly The Temple of Jupiter Pallenius Restored was acquired on his behalf by Messrs. Goupil at the Wynne Ellis sale at Christie's in 1876. It was Anthony Gibbs' most expensive acquisition and it is perhaps not surprising that he bought it shortly after the death of his octogenarian father, released from any parental strings and with access to yet more funds.
He would have first seen the painting hanging in the great rooms at Christie's surrounded by other "Modern" paintings collected by the millionaire philanthropist, Wynne-Ellis. He had formed a very extensive collection during the middle of the nineteenth century but only his "modern" pictures appeared at sale because just nine days before his death in November 1875 he had made a new Will. He left a spectacular bequest of 89 Old Master pictures to the National Gallery: his modern pictures were to be sold and the proceeds to be given to charities. The bequest included such famous images as Canaletto's Eton from the River and The Regatta on the Grand Canal, Pollaiuolo's Apollo and Daphne, The Tax Gatherers, attributed to Marinus van Reymerswaele, Rubens' Wagon Fording a Stream, The Large Dort by Cuyp, and a spectacular group of paintings by van de Velde and Ruisdael.
Wynne-Ellis (1790-1875) started his business as a wholesale warehouse proprietor in the financially halcyon days following the Napoleonic Wars. He soon rose to prominence and wealth and by 1830 was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Leicester. Outside London he lived at Ponsbourne Park near Hatfield and Whitstable Castle in Kent. He assembled a very impressive and extensive collection which was displayed in all his houses. His bequest to the National Gallery was the largest and most significant to that institution. His collection of modern works included paintings by Barret, Callcott, Constable (including Glebe Farm) Gainsborough (including The Duchess of Devonshire which achieved the outstanding price of ten thousand guineas) Landseer, Leslie, Morland, Nasmyth, Reynolds, Wilkie and Wilson. In all thirteen Turners were offered including Cilgerran Castle and the early Storm in the Mountains but Anthony Gibbs clearly had his eye on the greatest of these and secured this picture for the then high price of two thousand guineas.
What price Wynne-Ellis paid for the picture when he acquired it from that great artistic entrepreneur Henry Graves some forty years previously is unknown. Graves by that time had established himself as one of the leading picture dealers and print sellers in London. Looking back across his life in 1892 the editor of The Times wrote "The death of Mr Henry Graves, for so long a time a conspicuous figure in the world of art, breaks a link with a distant and interesting past ..., he had known Wilkie, had published for Constable and for years had Turner to sup with him every Sunday, and had contributed more, perhaps, than any other man to the fame and fortune of Landseer." As noted, Turner was well known to Graves and the two of them may well have been brought together by this particular painting. After learning his trade from the dealer Samuel Woodford, Graves had joined the print sellers Messrs. Hurst, Robinson & Co who had taken over Alderman Boydell's business in Cheapside. It was this firm which in 1822 suggested to Turner the possibility of producing four large engravings of his paintings. This had not been done before and in Turner's written response it is clear that the artist liked the idea of producing engravings that would vie with those by Woollett after paintings by Richard Wilson. To hasten the production process Hurst & Robinson took up Turner's suggestion that they might commence with a picture that had already been painted and to that end the company bought The Temple of Jupiter Pallenius Restored. The engraving of it, (Fig. 3) was entrusted to Turner's favourite engraver John Pye, (1782-1874) whose first work had been Pope's Villa at Twickenham, 1809. As W G Rawlinson wrote (The Engraved Work of J M W Turner 1908 p. lxiii) "It was the luminousness that Turner saw was possible in line engraving that from the first he (Pye) strove for; this, once obtained, he instantly fastened on and triumphantly carried to lengths unknown before. 'You can see the lights' (Turner) wrote in 1810 to Pye 'Had I known there was a man who could do that, I would have done it before.'" Having discovered his man, Turner employed him, through various print sellers to produce the only large scale contemporary engravings of his work.
The engraving of The Temple of Jupiter Pallenius Restored took a considerable time to produce, in part accounted for by the financial difficulties experienced by Hurst & Robinson. Three years after their acquisition of the painting they went into bankruptcy although the firm re-emerged phoenix-like having been bought by their young employee Henry Graves in partnership with Francis Moon and Thomas Shotter Boys. Under their new management the company thrived, both selling prints and increasingly dealing in pictures. Not only did Pye's engraving appear in 1828 but in the following year the company issued a substantial catalogue of new engravings. The business also moved from its old location in the city to a smarter address in the West End, setting up in new premises at 8 Pall Mall. It was here that clients could call, discuss pictures with Henry Graves and make purchases, just as happened in 1836 when Mr Wynne-Ellis, MP for Leicester, bought Turner's Greek masterpiece.
It is in some ways strange that a painting so well known in its day, not least through Pye's engraving (one of only four large engravings of Turner's works) should have almost disappeared from sight. Apart from its first appearance at the Royal Academy in 1816 it was only exhibited once in the nineteenth century, a loan exhibition to the British Institution in 1853. In the twentieth century it shared the fate of Tyntesfield itself, the house and its collection slipping slowly into obscurity. The painting re-emerged in 1982 and the house was to do likewise when acquired by the National Trust in 2002. Since then Tyntesfield and its contents have been seen as the epitome of nineteenth century taste. Likewise this painting has taken its position as one of Turner's great masterpieces celebrated in the last two years in the exhibition staged at the National Gallery, Washington, the Dallas Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
We are grateful to James Miller for providing the entry on the history of this work. For full information please see the catalogue dedicated to this work.
1. The Sun, 1816
2. The Repository of Arts, 1816
3. M. Butlin, "A Masterpiece Rediscovered: Turner's 'The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored" Christie's Review of the Season, 1982, p. 38
4. The European Magazine, February 1823
5. Published in four cantos between 1812 and 1818, Lord Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, described the travels, experiences and meditations of a self-exiled pilgrim named Harold ('Childe' is an archaic title applied to a young noble awaiting knighthood).
6. Numbering over fifty major oils and several hundred sketches and drawings, Turner's works treating subjects from mythology, epic and ancient Greek and Roman history appeared with notable regularity from the beginning to the very end of his career.
7. Reynolds, Discourses on Art, ed. Robert Wark, 1959, p. 238;
8. Turner's visual dialogue with the styles of Claude Lorrain or Nicholas Poussin became one of the artist's themes in its own right, interrelated with the topics of a hero's quest or a mythological lover's yearning.
9. Other works include; the sketch entitled, Attalus declaring the Greek States to be Free, c. 1810 (TB CXX, Misc, Black and White, Z) and the watercolour, The Acropolis, Athens, 1822, inscribed by Turner with a line from Byron's Giaour, "Tis Greece, but living Greece no more." (Museum of the City of Athens). By far the majority of Turner's images of modern Greece were later produced for engraving to illustrate the Life and Works of Lord Byron, published by John Murray in the 1820s and 1830s. They were followed by the Ulysses deriding Polyphemus – Homer's Odyssey, 1829 (National Gallery, London) based upon an initial sketch c. 1807 (Tate Gallery), the watercolour of the Temple of Minerva, Sunium, Cape Colonna, c. 1834, the oil painting of the Parting of Hero and Leander, exhibited in 1837, based upon a drawing of 1802 and lastly the dramatic oil painting of Phryne going to the Public Bath as Venus – Demosthenes taunted by Aeschines
10. Annals of the Fine Arts, June, 1816
11. George Basevi to John Soane, Rome January 18 1819 as quoted in A.T. Bolton, The Portrait of Sir John Soane, 1927, p. 277.
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