J.M.W. Turner is considered one of our most iconic artists; his country villa reopened this summer offering an insight into his fascinating life

Words Joy Montgomery

English Romanticist, landscape painter and capturer of light, Joseph Mallord William Turner is considered one of Englands’s most iconic artists. Sandycombe Lodge is situated in the midst of busy Twickenham and used by both Turner and his father. It acted as the perfect retreat from the pressures of the London art world.

For July 2017 Turner finally returns to Twickenham. The house has reopened its doors to the public following a £2.4 million year-long conservation programme, made possible by National Lottery players.

WHAT TO EXPECT?

With later additions and alterations removed, and the original external brick fabric of the building revealed, Sandycombe Lodge now reflects Turner’s original intentions. This draws on the evidence of his own later sketches1, the William Havell drawing c.1814 and the evidence visible in the building itself. A meticulous scrutiny of the construction of this Grade II* listed building has revealed unexpected features of Turner’s architectural vision. The original brick exterior may be a shock to those familiar with this house and its old white rendered finish.

The fabric of Sandycombe Lodge had deteriorated badly. In 2013 it was placed on Historic England’s Register of Buildings at Risk. As well as the surprising exterior ‘reveal’, the internal features have been fully restored. To do so, intensive research was carried out into the internal fabric, wall coverings and colours.

“We are delighted that Turner’s country villa, Sandycombe Lodge, has opened to the public, beautifully restored,” says Alex Farquharson, director Tate Britain. “Designed by Turner himself, it is his largest work of art. It will provide a fascinating insight into his life, throwing light on his character, family and friends. Turner’s paintings and drawings housed at Tate Britain show what this great artist produced throughout his prolific lifetime. The Lodge however will reveal a more intimate and domestic side of his important and complex story.”

Turner’s House is open to visitors Wednesday-Sunday. Self- guided visits 10–1pm and guided tours 1-4pm. Adult £6, child 5-15 years £3, under 5s free. Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children £15). Book online at turnershouse.org

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