Getty Museum Gets Turner: An Art Report of Triumph

"Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino JMW Turner"

Later this month, J.M.W. Turner’s “Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino” is moving into the 19th Century British Gallery of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Brentwood. At an estimated $44.9 million and 35.5 inches by 48 inches (90.2cm x 122cm), the 1839 original is a guaranteed win for the Los Angeles creative society.

In past years, the Getty had failed to complete previous elite purchases in the United Kingdom due to British law ruling in native favor. The Getty was unsuccessful in the battle over Raphael’s “Madonna of the Pinks” in 2002 and once again defeated in 2005 when attempting to conquer the illuminated psalter; losing twice to British suitors with government funding anticipated for cultural purposes. In Great Britain, pieces of ‘special significance’ require an export license to transport if the work lain on British land over 50 years, severely decreasing a foreign buyer’s ability to take home the prize.  In addition, a Brit must only match a foreigner’s bid to victor in auction, contrary to traditional ruling.

“We’re delighted and looking forward very much to having it here. I have no doubt we will have some sort of celebration, but we want to get it here first and put it on the wall.” – David Bomford, J Paul Getty Museum’s Director of Collections

Prior to its auction at Sotheby’s in London last July, Hugh Munro of Novar was the original owner of “Modern Rome,” which was acquired through a friendly connection with Turner and was sold shortly preceding his death.  The fifth Earl of Rosebery and his better half, Hannah Rothschild, obtained the oil painting in 1878 and remained in the family until it exhibited in the National Galleries of Scotland for 30 years prior to Getty’s acquisition.  Joseph Mallord William Turner crafted the painting to transform the city’s historic past tragedies into the modern lifestyle innovations of today through immaculate detail orientation and intelligent color choice.  Knowing Rome will never again be as in the previous centuries, J.M.W. Turner captured the sparkling city’s true light.

“Turner is quite simply the greatest British painter of the 19th century and occupies a unique and pivotal position in the history of art.”  – Scott Schaefer, J. Paul Getty Museum’s Senior Curator of Paintings

J. Paul Getty Museum, California

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