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You are here: Home Page / Exhibitions-1 / Past Exhibitions / Treasures at Tate Britain 2008

Treasures at Tate Britian 2008

JMW Turner The Loss of an East Indiaman

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Treasures from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery 

13th September 2008 - 4th January 2009 at Tate Britain


The collection at The Higgins boasts some of the most famous names in British Art, illustrating the history of the British watercolour through artists such as Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, Millais, and Freud. While many of the works have featured in international exhibitions, to which the Gallery has always been a generous lender, few people know of its depth and quality.


Works on display included JMW Turner’s 'The Loss of an East Indiaman' (1818), (pictured), purchased with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund (The Art Fund) and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund. The painting depicts the shipwreck of the Halsewell off Seacombe, Dorset in 1786, with the loss of 170 lives. This was a tragedy that captured the public imagination for decades; Byron mentions it in his poem 'Don Juan' (1819). The work is a companion piece for 'A First Rate Taking in Stores', also in the collection of the Higgins.


Other works include 'Fir Trees at Hampstead' (1833) by Constable, 'Cupid Delivering Psyche' (1867) by Burne-Jones, and Wyndham Lewis’ 'The Centauress' (1912), as well as watercolours by Towne, Holman-Hunt, Rossetti, Whistler and Bomberg. 'Study for a Mural of Country Life' (1951) represents a thousand or so items donated by Edward Bawden which formed the contents of his studio.


The Tate Britain exhibition was curated by Victoria Partridge, Keeper of Fine and Decorative Art at The Higgins, with support and advice from Christine Riding, Curator of 18th and 19th Century British Art at Tate Britain.