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Release Date: September 11, 2007

Jeremy Irons Narrates "J.M.W. Turner" Exhibition Film, Produced by National Gallery of Art, Washington

Washington, DC—Groundbreaking works that heralded a visionary direction in 19th-century painting by J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) are the subject of a new documentary film that accompanies the exhibition J.M.W. Turner on its Washington-Dallas-New York tour. Narrated by the Academy Award–winning actor Jeremy Irons and produced by the National Gallery of Art, the 30-minute film will premiere to television audiences on Maryland Public Television (MPT) on October 7 at 4:30 p.m. Additional times and dates will be announced.

The 30-minute film will be shown at the Gallery from October 1 to January 6 on two screens: daily in the West Building Project Room, adjacent to the West Building Lecture Hall, continuously from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and in the East Building Large Auditorium at noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (with minor exceptions).

The 30-minute DVD will be available October 1 for $19.95 through the National Gallery of Art Shops. To order the DVD, call (800) 697-9350 or (202) 842-6002; fax (202) 789-3047; or e-mail [email protected].

The film is made possible by the HRH Foundation.

The Film

The documentary chronicles Turner’s career: a barber’s son, he entered the Royal Academy art school at age 14 and became, over the course of six decades, Britain’s greatest landscape painter. Turner elevated landscapes to an unprecedented level, demonstrating that the genre could equal history painting in complexity and expressive power. This film traces Turner’s annual sketching tours, inaugurated in 1791, with footage of Wales, England, Switzerland, and Italy; features nearly 80 works set to music; and includes readings from writers and artists of the era, including John Ruskin and Lord Byron.

The Exhibition

The largest retrospective ever presented in the United States of the career of J.M.W. Turner will premiere at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The exhibition of 146 works, divided almost evenly between oils and works on paper, will include many masterworks that have never been shown in the United States. Turner’s extensive range of subjects—seascapes, topographical views, historical events, mythology, modern life, and scenes from his own fertile imagination—will be represented.

Turner was extremely prolific, producing more than 500 paintings and some 1,500 watercolors. He left approximately 100 of his most important, finished oils to the British nation. These works, known as the Turner Bequest, are housed primarily at Tate Britain, which also maintains an extensive collection of the artist’s works on paper and unfinished paintings.

Support and Organization

J.M.W. Turner is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Dallas Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in association with Tate Britain, London, which is lending 85 works from its vast and impressive Turner Bequest.

The exhibition is sponsored by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

Bank of America is proud to be the national sponsor.

The exhibition is made possible in part through the generous support of Access Industries.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

General Information

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at, Twitter at, and Instagram at

Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000B South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]


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