J. M. W. Turner - Rome from Mount Aventine 1836

Rome from Mount Aventine 1836
Rome from Mount Aventine
1836 124x91cm oil/canvas
Private Collection
LOT SOLD. 30,322,500 GBP - Sotheby's auction

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From Sotheby's:
by Richard Charlton Jones
The quite astonishing state of preservation of Rome from Mount Aventine - unharmed by the vicissitudes of time or infelicitous restoration - which permits us to look upon it almost as if we were ourselves visitors to the Royal academy exhibition of 1836, is fitting testament to its remarkable and unbroken provenance. For in its 186 year history, this painting has changed hands only once. This was in 1878 when it was sold by the heirs of the man who had originally commissioned it, Hugh Munro of Novar, one of Turner’s closest friends and patrons. It was then bought by Archibald Philip, 5th Earl of Rosebery, later Prime Minster of Great Britain, to celebrate his marriage with Hannah Rothschild, and it has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since. It would be hard indeed to find a more distinguished provenance than this, let alone one more intact.
Rome from Mount Aventine was originally commissioned from Turner by Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar (1797-1864). Munro was enormously wealthy, the heir to the vast Ross-shire estates and Indian fortune of his uncle General Sir Hector Munro, who had died in 1806. Although Turner was a famously difficult character, and Munro was over twenty years younger, the latter established a relationship with the painter that few if any contemporary patrons, save perhaps Lord Egremont at Petworth or Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall could match. The two men had certainly met by 1826, when Turner famously remarked in a letter that Munro had ‘lost a great deal of his hesitation in manner and speech and does not blush so often as heretofore’.1 By 1830 Turner had visited him at Novar in Scotland, and Munro was swiftly to become one of his most fervent patrons, buying many of the most important paintings Turner showed at the Royal Academy between 1836 and 1844, including the present canvas.