The Turner bequest

The final settlement

After the Second World War, the Gallery did not resume the display of Turner’s two paintings next to Claude's (view paintings).

British School Display
The British School display in Room 32 at the National Gallery featuring a selection of Turners, 1956


This was partly due to limitations on space in a bomb damaged Gallery, but it was also due to a reconsideration of the agreement that had been made in 1856.

The Gallery claimed that:

‘the moral issue raised by the terms of Turner’s will is no longer in question’ [given that Turner’s reputation as Claude’s equal was now acknowledged, and]  ‘it would scarcely be necessary for that reason alone to continue the arrangement’.

Correspondence between Gould and Arnott
Assistant Keeper Cecil Gould's letter to Mr Noel Arnott, responding to his query about why the Turners were no longer hung with the Claudes, stating why the Gallery felt this was no longer necessary, 1954


In 1968 the National Gallery and Tate (which had formally separated from the Gallery in 1955) agreed that the collection of British paintings in each gallery should be more clearly defined.

Room 15
Room 15 in the National Gallery, 2011

Seven paintings were selected for the National Gallery to represent the full range and influence of Turner’s work. At the same time, press interest prompted the Gallery to reconsider their display of the Turners and Claudes.

The paintings were reunited, initially alongside the British paintings, then with the French pictures, and finally in Room 15 (as pictured above and right), where they remain today.

Find out more about Turner and view his paintings in the collection

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