Two Turner paintings owned by a US gallery will return to the UK for the first time in over 100 years, to go on display in a free National Gallery exhibition.

Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, painted in the mid-1820s, have not been seen in the UK since 1911. They were exhibited in New York in 1914 at the Knoedler Gallery, and subsequently acquired the same year by the American industrialist Henry Clay Frick.

They have remained in the United States ever since.

Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile (c) The Frick Collection, New York / photo Michael Bodycomb

Turner visited the French fishing port of Dieppe, in Normandy, twice in the early 1820s before painting Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile in his London studio. Dieppe and Cologne exemplify Turner’s life-long fascination with the subject of ports and harbours – past and present – as dynamic, transitional places.

Now they have been lent for the first time by The Frick Collection in New York, the two oil paintings will be able to go on display at the National Gallery later this year.

These paintings were made at a time when Turner was experimenting with the representation of light and they offer a fascinating glimpse into his technique as well as the everyday life of major European ports of distinctly different regions.

In many ways, the story these paintings tell is less about a place, than it is about Turner’s increasing fascination with the dramatic effects of sunlight which becomes a significantly more important motif in Turner’s later works.

The two paintings will be shown side by side in the third exhibition at the National Gallery featuring rarely loaned paintings from American institutions, following on from Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and the current exhibition, Picasso Ingres: Face to Face.

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says “Turner’s glorious river and harbour scenes from the Frick Collection are, through a special set of circumstances, coming to London for an unprecedented showing at the National Gallery. I am enormously grateful to our friends at the Frick for sharing their masterpieces with us.”

The exhibition, Turner on Tour opens on 3rd November, and entry will be free.

Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening (c) The Frick Collection, New York / photo Michael Bodycomb

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