An exclusive watercolor of the Kirkby Lonsdale Churchyard, by Joseph Mallord William Turner R.A., is the major highlight of forthcoming Bonhams auction of 19th century paintings. The auction will be held on Jan. 25.
The painting has not been seen at auction since 1884 and is expected to fetch between £200,000 and £300,000. It depicts a scene on the banks of the River Lune, as seen from the churchyard of the St. Mary's Church in Kirkby Lonsdale, with a group of children playing in the foreground.
The artwork was widely reviewed and admired by critics from across the world; influential critic and artist John Ruskin, while reviewing the creation, said whatever moorland hill, and Sweet River, and English forest foliage can be seen at their best is gathered there; and chiefly seen from the steep bank which falls to the stream side from the upper part of the town itself. ...I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine, or a more priceless possession of true Holy Land.
The work of art was previously owned by Sir Donald Currie, a shipping magnate and major collector of Turner's works, who, at various times, owned no less than 57 of his watercolors and 14 of his oil paintings. This particular one was also exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, as part of the exhibition Turner: The Great Watercolors.
Commenting on the artwork, Charles O'Brien, the Head of Bonhams' 19th century paintings department, said it was important in terms of Turner's relationship with landscapes at this period in his career, as signified by his decision to leave out the church in order to focus on the trees, the river and the landscape with the valley extending into a wonderfully misty distance.