TWO paintings by the renowned artist JMW Turner are being returned to Abbotsford House.
Turner executed the postcard-sized paintings when he visited Sir Walter Scott’s home in 1831 – just a year before Scott’s death.
One watercolour shows Abbotsford through the trees with a buggy and riders crossing the Tweed at the Abbot’s Ford from which Scott took the name for his home. The ford is still used today at the Braw Lads’ Gathering.
The second watercolour shows Newark Tower in the Yarrow Valley.
The paintings are currently owned by Mrs Phoebe Barrow and will be handed over to the Trust, which runs Abbotsford, later this year. They were used to illustrate The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott published by Robert Cadell in 1833. A number of additional drawings by Turner are understood to be beneath the mounts.
They are being donated to the Abbotsford Trust through the Art Fund, a charity which helps secure art works for museums and galleries across the UK.
News of the donation was given to a meeting of the Abbotsford Trust at the Sir Walter Scott Club in Edinburgh.
Trust chairman Lord Sanderson of Bowden told TheSouthern: “We are obviously delighted that two such significant works have been donated to the Trust and are extremely grateful to the Barrow family for this magnificent gift.
“The paintings have close links with Scott and the home that he loved so much, and also illustrate the links between two of the most important cultural figures in our history. We are confident that our visitors will love viewing the works and finding out more about the fascinating history behind them.”
Mrs Barrow’s grandfather bought the paintings in 1912 from the estate of a distant relative, John Taylor, founder of the Manchester Guardian. The original owner is thought to have been Robert Cadell, Sir Walter’s publisher.
Mrs Barrow – a long-term supporter of the Art Fund – chose to give the works through the charity to ensure that they are enjoyed by the public in perpetuity.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund said: “These atmospheric watercolours capture the beauty of Abbotsford and echo the mystery and romance of Scott’s writing. We are delighted to have helped facilitate Mrs Barrow’s generous gift which allows future generations to admire these precious works and appreciate their significance to this historic house.”
The paintings will eventually go on permanent display at Abbotsford following the completion of the historic home’s planned refurbishment in 2013. Work is set to commence later this year on a multi-million redevelopment of the attraction, including the construction of a new visitor centre and a major repair and refurbishment of the house itself. The Trust has raised £10million to date to pay for the work and is continuing its efforts to raise a further £3million.
Abbotsford House opens for a new season on Monday and remains open until September 16.