- 1st − 31st January 2012 | Scottish National Gallery
Vaughan and Turner
At the heart of his devotion to British art was Vaughan’s appreciation of Turner – the artist he collected most systematically and thoughtfully. His Turners were described without exaggeration in one of his obituaries as ‘singularly choice and indeed hardly paralleled in this country’.
The extent of his Turner collection was considerable: thirty-eight watercolours came to the National Gallery of Scotland, thirty-one went to the National Gallery of Ireland, twenty-three to the National Gallery, London (they are now integrated with the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain), and six passed to the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Vaughan took seriously the question of how his bequests were displayed. He stipulated that his works for Edinburgh should be exhibited ‘all at one time free of charge during the month of January’. In limiting their exposure in this way, he demonstrated his awareness of a wide-ranging discussion in the second half of the nineteenth century about whether watercolours faded when exposed to light. Vaughan was clearly of the view, which is consistent with modern conservation guidelines, that to preserve such works their display should be restricted. His foresight means that the watercolours are notable for their remarkably fine condition.