Mr.Turner: Recreating the masterpieces on film

Mr.Turner: Recreating the masterpieces on film

Mike Leigh’s film ‘Mr. Turner’ explores the last quarter century of British artist J.M.W Turner’s life.

In reconstructing each of Turner’s environments Thin Man Films aimed to be as authentic as possible and so, for the Royal Academy Varnishing Day scene, this involved reproducing works that would have been there using a catalogue from the exhibition of 1832.

 turnerClick on the image  for exclusive behind the scenes footage of how the art department brought Turner’s paintings to life


Mr. Turner and the Royal Academy Exhibition

Archives and museums provided high resolution digital images of the pictures which their art department printed onto canvases at their actual size which they then framed, applying varnish to make them resonate.

This was an ambitious project as it involved replicating between 200-350 paintings for one scene. 

Watch exclusive behind the scenes footage of how the art department brought replicas of Turner’s paintings and those by his contemporaries to life.      


Helvoetsluys; - the City of Utrecht, 64, Going to Sea, 1832 (oil on canvas) turner-film-painting-royal-academy-sm
 Helvoetsluys (1832) by J.M/W Turner (1775-1851)
© Tokyo Fuji Art Museum / Bridgeman Images
 A scene from the film


One of the famous anecdotes about Turner presented on film is the incident at the 1832 Royal Academy Exhibition in which Turner’s varnishing day antics led to a clash with John Constable, whose painting was hung next to Turner’s ‘Helvoetsluys; – the City of Utrecht’.  Turner’s last minute addition of a red ‘blob’ of paint onto his seascape – which he then fashioned into a buoy – was deemed to show up Constable’s work as overblown and over-painted.





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Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner is in cinemas nationwide from 31 October 2014

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