Turner paintings are returned to their spiritual home

The Turner watercolours were handed over to Lord Sanderson, Chairman of The Abbotsford Trust.' by their previous owner, Mrs Phoebe Barrow
The Turner watercolours were handed over to Lord Sanderson, Chairman of The Abbotsford Trust.' by their previous owner, Mrs Phoebe Barrow

Two works by the great romantic landscape painter JMW Turner have this week arrived at their new home in the Borders – Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford near Melrose.

The watercolours were handed over to The Abbotsford Trust by their previous owner Mrs Phoebe Barrow following a donation organised through the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art.

The postcard-sized paintings depict Abbotsford and Newark Tower near Yarrowford and were painted during Turner’s visit to Abbotsford in 1831 – the year before Sir Walter’s death.

They were used to illustrate The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, published by Robert Cadell in 1833, and were acquired by Mrs Barrow’s grandfather in 1912 from the estate of a distant relative.

The Turner paintings will go on display at Abbotsford following the completion of the historic home’s planned refurbishment in 2013. Until then, they will be available to view on request.

Work is set to commence today on the first phase of the multi-million redevelopment of the attraction, including the construction of a new visitor centre and major repair and refurbishment of the house itself.

The Trust has raised more than £10million to date to pay for the work and is continuing its efforts to raise a further £4million to ensure the future of the property is secure.

Mrs Barrow visited Abbotsford this week to formally present the paintings to trust chairman Lord Sanderson, who told us: “We are extremely grateful to Mrs Barrow and her family for such a generous donation. Both Scott and Turner are exceptionally important figures in the country’s cultural landscape and we are delighted to have works that illustrate the links between the two men within our collections.

“Mrs Barrow can be assured these beautiful paintings will be greatly appreciated and enjoyed by visitors from across the globe once they are on permanent display here at Abbotsford.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund said; “Abbotsford is precisely the right home for these wonderful Turner paintings given their history. It is a great honour that Mrs Barrow has brought these works into a public collection where they can be seen and enjoyed by everybody.”

Abbotsford will remain open to the public until September 16, after which it will close to enable refurbishment work begin. For information on opening hours, visit www.scottsabbotsford.co.uk

z Work will start today on the construction of a new visitor reception building.

The Duke of Buccleuch, patron of The Abbotsford Trust, will cut the first sod on the site of the new building which is part of a project to transform Abbotsford into a world-class visitor attraction.

Children from Tweedbank Primary School will also help the Duke to replant a sapling from the construction site to another area in Abbotsford’s grounds.

The event will be attended by representatives from the Trust’s funding partners including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Enterprise.