Stonehenge

c.1827–28

By J M W Turner

Turner’s well-known watercolour of Stonehenge was the most violent image in his series of Picturesque Views in England and Wales, produced between 1825 and 1838. As a fierce storm moves off across Salisbury Plain, it leaves in its wake a shepherd who has been struck dead by lightning.  Such tragedies were reported in the 1820s, but the incident has been interpreted symbolically by commentators like John Ruskin, for whom perceptions of Stonehenge were coloured by its darker, pagan associations. Turner possibly intended some kind of contrast between his representations of shepherds at Stonehenge and Salisbury. In the Salisbury view the shepherd withstands the hostile weather like a protective guardian, his upright figure providing an echo of the cathedral’s spire.

Acquired through Acceptance in Lieu from Dept of National Heritage.

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Of particular significance in the collection are the relics of the ancient guilds of Salisbury.

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