Welcome to Yorkshire: Artistic trail in great painter's footsteps

An artistic trail following in the footsteps of one of Britain's greatest painters is expected to draw thousands of art lovers to Yorkshire.

Joseph Mallord William Turner was a frequent visitor to Yorkshire, admiring its countryside, coast and buildings.

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In 1816 he made one of many visits, travelling on horseback, making hundreds of sketches on which he based watercolours.

Two hundred years later, more than 70 Yorkshire views which inspired him have been identified and incoporated into a 'Turner Trail'.

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The trail was launched at Bolton Castle at Leyburn by contemporary

Yorkshire artist Ashley Jackson at an event organised by tourism group Welcome to Yorkshire.

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Turner did not limit himself to the countryside and coast of Yorkshire.

He sketched and painted in Leeds, at a time when the city was expanding rapidly through the industrial revolution.

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He painted a panorama of the city from a vantage point on Beeston Hill, and featured buildings which can still be seen today, including the spire of Trinity Church in Boar Lane.

Then, as now, Beeston Hill afforded a view of Leeds stretching from Armley in the west to Swillington in the east.

That painting, along with one of Gledhow Hall, home of patron John Dixon, was part of a commission for 120 watercolours to illustrate a book on the County of York. Both works were done in 1816.

Other works included views of Kirkstall. One picture, Eller's House, is a view looking up the Aire Valley, with the Leeds-Liverpool canal and twin-arched bridge – still there – at Kirkstall, and the abbey on the distant right.

Turner's links with Leeds and the surrounding area were great.

Edward Lascelles of Harewood House was a patron and commissioned paintings of the stately home, but a far more important association was with Walter Fawkes and his family of Farnley Hall outside Otley.

Turner became a close family friend, visiting annually for holidays, and painting the hall and the Wharfe Valley from vantage points on Otley Chevin.

One of Turner's most famous works, Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps, was once assumed to have been based on a visit he made to the Alps. The influence for the setting was in fact a thunderstorm he witnessed while staying at Farnley Hall.

The Turner Trail will feature all the sites visited by Turner in Yorkshire, with the intention of enabling visitors to see the original panoramic views of Yorkshire which inspired him, and compare them to his actual paintings.

Ashley said: "Turner has always been my master – and Yorkshire has been my mistress. I don't paint like Turner but I have enormous respect for him. He was the first Impressionist – before the French.

"He did 150 paintings in Leeds alone. It is absolutely superb that Welcome to Yorkshire have done this Turner Trail."