A mystery oil painting kept in storage at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery has been revealed to be the work of Turner. The painting is a study of a ship off Margate beach and was placed in storage after serious doubts arose surrounding by its authenticity.
Prominent art historian Ian Warrell is convinced the mysterious artwork is a genuine Turner piece. Warrell used to look after the significant Turner collection at Tate Britain in London.
He said: “It had been hidden away at the Whitworth really because they were led to believe that it was not a Turner. But I’m convinced that it is.”
After passing from hand to hand for more than 50 years, the painting was bequeathed to the Whitworth, which currently houses 18 Turner paintings. But when concerns arose surrounding its authenticity the painting was placed in storage.
Head of collections at The Whitworth, David Morris said: “The painting was assessed by a Turner expert, Mr G Agnew, in 1924, and a note by him says he does not consider it to be a Turner.”
After saying that he doubted it was genuine, Agnew valued the painting at £200.
Morris added: “Then in the 1980s it was looked at by another Turner expert, Evelyn Joll, who was responsible for a catalogue raisonnee of all Turner’s works. He said it was not a Turner.
“So when you have that kind of opinion as a public gallery, you have to take it off show, you don’t want to be embarrassed.
“Ian Warrell was intrigued by it however. He is the current best expert on Turner in the UK. I am opened minded about it. He considers it to be part of a group of paintings of Margate, three of which are held by the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
“It would be fascinating to bring them all together and to carry out a scientific examination, looking at things like the pigment of the paint, to establish definitively that it is a Turner.
The artwork has now been relabelled as a Turner by the Whitworth.