press release

In celebration of J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free (de Young, June 20–September 20, 2015), the Legion of Honor presents an exhibition featuring drawings, watercolors, and oil sketches by Joseph Mallord William Turner and his contemporaries, including Thomas Gainsborough, John Robert Cozens, William Blake, John Constable, John Martin, and Samuel Palmer. This installation will emphasize the rich holdings of the Fine Arts Museums’ Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, as well as important examples from private collections in San Francisco.

Luminous Worlds gathers about 40 works, ranging widely in subject matter and technique, that reveal the richness and versatility of British artistic production over the course of a century. The exhibition reflects the 18th-century vogue for portraiture and caricature; the rise of landscape painting, especially in watercolors; the Romantic engagement with themes from mythology and literature; and 19th-century Orientalism. Highlights include Gainsborough’s Upland Landscape with Figures, Riders, and Cattle (ca. 1780–1790), Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Portrait of Mrs. Sarah Siddons (ca. 1790), Blake’s The Complaint of Job (ca. 1786), and Turner’s View of Kenilworth Castle (ca. 1830).

The exhibition is curated by Emerson Bowyer, research assistant, European Paintings.