J. M. W. Turner - Ancient Italy. Ovid Banished from Rome 1838

Ancient Italy. Ovid Banished from Rome 1838
Ancient Italy. Ovid Banished from Rome
1838 125x94cm oil/canvas
National Gallery of Victoria

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From National Gallery of Victoria:
Nothing is more exciting for the lover of art than the totally unexpected appearance of a masterpiece by a great artist. That two such masterpieces by J. M. W. Turner should turn up in a private collection in Paris is even more amazing. The collection of Camille Groult, who besides acquiring works by French masters was also unusual among Continental collectors in his interest in British paintings, has remained all but hidden from view since his death in 1907. It was known that he had purchased, from the dealer Sedelmeyer in about 1894, one work by Turner, Ancient Italy – Ovid banished from Rome (fig. 1), a finished picture exhibited by the artist at the Royal Academy in 1838,1 but this was all: that is, apart from the complication that a copy of this picture by another hand was known for which a provenance was claimed from the same collection, and that the collection was also suspected of containing other misattributed works. When, in 1967, a completely unknown oil painting by Turner, neither exhibited by the artist in his lifetime nor, apparently, recorded since, was acquired from this same collection for the Louvre, Turner specialists were amazed and delighted2 (fig. 2). Nobody dared hope that a second such unknown work was still lurking in the secretive house on the Paris boulevard. About four years ago the present writer, sworn to secrecy, was shown photographs of the known Ancient Italy – Ovid banished from Rome and a further work, so abstract in character that at first sight it was difficult to tell even whether it was a landscape or a stormy sea. A year or so later the picture spent a short time in London, with Thos, Agnew & Sons, Ltd., before being sent on to Australia: the present writer was again fortunate in being one of the few people who saw the picture on this occasion, when its qualities were fully apparent. Acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1974 it returned, thanks to the generosity of the Trustees and Director, to London in the winter of 1974–5 to form part of the large exhibition devoted to Turner’s work arranged jointly by the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy and shown at the Royal Academy where it was seen by over 400,000 people.