Leeds helped launch artist Mr Turner’s career

Timothy Spall in new film  Mr Turner
Timothy Spall in new film Mr Turner
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A NEW BIOGRAPHICAL film about one of Britain’s most famous and controversial painters could be set to spark a renewed interest in his strong links with Leeds.

JMW Turner was a regular visitor to the city and produced around 40 or 50 watercolours of landscapes and buildings in Yorkshire.

A Turner painting of Harewood Castle

A Turner painting of Harewood Castle

Mike Leigh’s film Mr Turner has won rave reviews from critics and has been welcomed by tourism agency Welcome To Yorkshire.

They produced a Turner Trails website at www.yorkshire.com/turner around three years ago and are hoping the hype surrounding Mr Turner will lead to renewed interest.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Turner loved Yorkshire and visited around 70 places across the county, sketching and painting – a great example of how dramatic and inspiring Yorkshire’s landscapes are and why millions of visitor come here from all over the world.”

David Hill, 61, of Roundhay, is a retired professor of history and art at the University of Leeds, and a Turner expert. Mr Hill has written two books on the artist – Turner in the North and Turner and Leeds.

Turner's view of Dob Park Lodge near Otley

Turner's view of Dob Park Lodge near Otley

Mr Hill said: “Apart from his native London, Turner probably visited no other city more often than Leeds. He came here virtually annually from 1797 to the mid 1820’s.

“His first important patron was Edward Lascelles, son of the First Earl of Harewood. He painted a complete set of pictures at he house, most of which are still there, when he was only 22 in 1797.

“It was almost his breakthrough commission. He used that as a basis of making a big tour of Yorkshire that year. He painted Kirkstall Abbey on that first visit.

“He got friendly with a chap called Walter Fawkes, who lived at Farnely Hall at Otley. He visited there every year from 1808 to 1824.

A Turner watercolour of Kirkby Lonsdale Churchyard on the North Yorkshire/Cumbria border

A Turner watercolour of Kirkby Lonsdale Churchyard on the North Yorkshire/Cumbria border

“They became very close friends and Fawkes bought 250 paintings.

“He was without doubt the greatest artist Britain has ever produced. In original art in Britain he is the equivalent of Shakespeare in literary art.”

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