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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 17:14 GMT
Rare Turner works go online
Users can assemble their own online Turner gallery
Thousands of sketches, paintings and watercolours by JMW Turner hardly seen since the 19th Century have gone online.

The Tate gallery, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, has opened online access to the entire Turner Bequest.

The bequest was given to the nation after the painter's death in 1851 and contains nearly 300 paintings and over 30,000 watercolours and drawings - normally kept in the vaults of Tate Britain and seen only on request.


The great thing is you can see how he evolved and progressed his ideas

David Brown, Turner expert
The project also allows users to search Turner's works by geographical location and offers digitally-enhanced viewing of some of the fainter drawings and sketches.

Turner specialist David Brown told BBC Breakfast: "It is an extraordinary resource, the Turner Bequest - these thousands and thousands of drawings and watercolours and sketchbooks that Turner used over many years - they tell us an incredible amount about his work.

"Turner sold most of his finished paintings and watercolours, and this is a marvellous way of looking at the artist at work.

Favourite works

"The great thing is you can see how he evolved and progressed his ideas - you can follow through from sketches he did on the spot to more developed ideas."

Users can also assemble their own online catalogue of favourite works.

Study of Composition of Claude's 'Landscape with the Landing of Aenas', JMYW Turner: Tate, bequeathed by the artist 1856
Many watercolours were studies for later oils
The work is part of the Insight project, designed to put the entire Tate vault online, and the uploading of the Turner Bequest will mean that over 50,000 works from the Tate collection have been imaged and indexed by the Insight team.

"We do represent the works very accurately on screen and with something like the Turner bequest that's very, very important because a lot of the sketches are very faint," said the Tate's Oliver Vicker-Harris.

"If you do get to an image which is a bit faint and you can't see properly you can view a digitally enhanced version."

But Mr Vicker-Harris added that that the intention of the Insight project was to widen access to the Tate collections - and not to replace the experience of coming to the Tate galleries.

See also:

19 Feb 02 | Arts
Rare landscape art on show
01 Nov 01 | Arts
Tate Britain goes public
30 Oct 01 | Arts
Tate galleries' success story
14 Jun 01 | Arts
Turner watercolour sets record
23 Mar 00 | UK
Artists unveil Tate Britain
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