Late Turner: painting set free, an exhibition at Tate Britain in 2015, brought together two Turner paintings, which had hung in the same room in the Royal Academy exhibition in 1841 and which were bought by BG Windus: Glaucus and Scylla and Dawn of Christianity (Flight into Egypt).
Dawn of Christianity
For Dawn of Christianity Turner selected ‘That Star has risen’, from Walks in the Forest by Thomas Gisborne, as the text to accompany the painting referring to the renewal of nature in spring and thus making a comparison with the coming of Christ after the Flood.
Both of the paintings are in the unusual format which Turner had begun to experiment with the year before, where the painting is on a square but framed as round.
A round painting of this size is called a tondo, from the Italian rotondo which means round.
For more information on tondos and the frames Turner used and which he was very particular about.
Glaucus and Scylla
Glaucus and Scylla illustrates the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which Circe poisons the water in which Scylla, the love of Glaucus (whom Circe herself has fallen in love with) bathes, turning her lower body into barking dogs and monsters. The terrified Scylla throws herself into the sea.
How Turner’s tondos reached Ulster and Texas
The two Turner tondos, Dawn of Christianity and Glaucus and Scylla were sold in 1853 and remained as a pair in various collections until 1872.
The Dawn of Christianity was purchased first by R.K. Hodgson M.P and then by Sir Donald Currie and presented to the then Belfast Art Gallery by his wife in 1913. It is now part of the National Museums Northern Ireland’s collection and is in the Ulster Museum.
Glaucus and Scylla was in several collections including that of Sir Horatio Davies, Lord Mayor of London, before it was bought by art collectors Anna and John Jaffé in 1902. In 1942 the pro-Nazi Vichy government seized the family art collection and the painting was sold in 1943 at an auction of “Jewish property”. After several owners it was bought by the Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, in 1966 – at the time its provenance information had no reference to Nazi confiscation or forced sales.
Decades later Anna Jaffé’s great great nephew, Alain Monteagle, a French secondary school history teacher was searching for the family’s stolen property, and encountering considerable difficulty. When he finally came across the painting at the Kimbell Art Museum, the gallery, after months of discussion, recognised the validity of the claim and it was returned to the heirs in June 2006. Glaucus and Scylla was then auctioned in Christie’s Old Masters sale in New York in April 2007, where of the 260 pictures in the sale, 46 had been expropriated by the Nazis during the Second World War.
As the Economist noted in their article of April 7th 2007 – A persistent heir gets back a looted masterpiece:
Indeed, the story of how Lot 122, the last of the morning session, came to be in this sale is proof of just how determined—in the face of ignorance, perfidy and indifference—claimants still have to be if they are to stand any chance of finding their lost art treasures, let alone getting them back.
The painting was re-acquired by the museum for almost $6.5 million dollars.
There is a Belfast connection to this painting too – John Jaffé’s father, Daniel Jaffé, came from Mecklenburg to Belfast where John later became President of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce in 1883.
When John married his wife, Anna Gluge, she persuaded him to choose Nice for their residence. Marcel Proust and Henry James were amongst their friends and stayed at the Villa Jaffé. The contents of the villa were like a small museum and they often lent paintings to the nearby Musée Massena.
From the RA to Tottenham Green to Belfast
Provenance: Dawn of Christianity
Benjamin Godfrey Windus (1790-1867), by whom purchased at the Royal Academy Exhibition in 1841; Christie’s London, 20 June 1853 (3), bought in;
Christie’s 19 July 1862, Lot 57, bt. Rought;
Louis Huth, Esq; Christie’s, London, 2 March 1872, lot 74 bt. Agnew;
Pair broken up in 1872:
R.K. Hodgson M.P., who sold to Agnew, 1891, sold to
Sir Donald Currie; presented to the
Belfast Art Gallery by Lady Currie, 1913
From the RA to Tottenham Green to Nice to Fort Worth, Texas
Provenance: Glaucus and Scylla
Benjamin Godfrey Windus (1790-1867), by whom purchased at the Royal Academy Exhibition in 1841; Christie’s, London, 20 June 1853, lot 40 (bought in at £735).
Christie’s, London, 19 July 1862, lot 58 (£294 to [Thomas] Rought).
Louis Huth, Esq.; Christie’s, London, 2 March 1872, lot 73 (£535 to Arthur Tooth and Sons, London).
Pair broken up in 1872:
José de Murrieta, Marquis de Santurce; Christie’s, London, 7 April 1883, lot 171 (bought in at £570).
Sir Horatio Davies, Lord Mayor of London, Watcombe Hall, Torquay, until 1901.
Charles Sedelmeyer (1837-1925), Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris, by 1902.
John Jaffé (d. 1933) and his wife Anna Jaffé (d. 1942), Nice, 1902/3-1942; sale, ‘Collections John Jaffé’, ordered by the Commissariat aux questions juives de L’Etat Français, Hôtel Savoy, Nice, 12-3 July 1943, lot 121 (28,000 FF).
Emile Leitz, Paris, until 1956, from whom purchased by
with Howard Young Galleries, New York, 1957.
Mrs. Chamberlain, until 1966
with Newhouse Galleries, Inc., New York, from where purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, in 1966.
Restituted to the heirs of Anna Jaffé in 2006
For the full story of Anna and John Jaffé go to Cataloguing and Details - John and Anna Jaffé – A European Family