J M W Turner Watercolour of Malmesbury Abbey is ‘saved for the nation’ 

Art lovers staying at The Old Bell Hotel will shortly be able to visit a beautiful J M W Turner watercolour that will soon be on display in our local museum. Athelstan Museum are thrilled to announce their acquisition of the watercolour of Malmesbury Abbey, in which The Old Bell Hotel is visible, by the famous artist Joseph Mallord William Turner. The painting was acquired with £380,900 of National Lottery funding and additional funding from Art Fund.


The watercolour over pencil of Malmesbury Abbey was painted by Turner circa 1827. Originally part of an exhibition of sixty-six Turner watercolours from the series displayed at the Moon, Boys and Graves Gallery at 6 Pall Mall, London in 1833, the painting has been in private hands for over 40 years. The watercolour shows Malmesbury Abbey from the north, early on a glorious summer morning, the foreground flooded with light and cattle warming themselves in the early sun. The 12th-century ruins had captivated Turner since his first visit to Malmesbury aged only sixteen in 1791.


‘Photograph copyright Richard Green Gallery, London

Following renovations to Athelstan Museum Malmesbury in early 2020, the painting is expected to be on display from late spring 2020. Over the subsequent 18 months, a wide programme of art and creative activities based around the artist will be developed by the museum, designed to educate and develop skills for all audiences including children. Activities will include regular Turner lectures from experts and an art therapy programme, centred on those with dementia or who are living in isolation. The programme of events will culminate in a spectacular Son et Lumiere in Malmesbury’s stunning 12th Century Abbey planned for Autumn 2021.


Sharon Nolan, Chair of Athelstan Museum, said: ‘I am very proud that we have managed to save this watercolour for the nation and, more especially, that it is returning to its rightful home of Malmesbury.’ http://www.athelstanmuseum.org.uk/



Just another reason to visit the wonderful town of Malmesbury!