Collection Highlights, News

Burning Houses Draw a Crowd

The museum's J.M.W. Turner masterpiece the Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October 1834 has moved. Museum Director David Franklin hinted at the move in a Plain Dealer article in early January, remarking, "That's a top-10 painting in the collection," adding, "it fights with the tureen." The tureen in question has been replaced with the Josiah Wedgwood Portland Vase and an unattributed earthenware figure. These more classically inspired pieces blend harmoniously with John Martin's Ruins of an Ancient City, now in the place of the Turner.

In contrast, the Turner has drawn a crowd. It now occupies the center of the previous gallery, amid numerous portraits. Opposite the fiery scene, on long term loan from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Portrait of John Wodehouse by Pompeo Batoni hangs.  Incidentally, Wodehouse served in Parliament from 1784 to 1797. He gazes to his right, seemingly at the over-mantel mirror and fireplace surround.  But truly the focus here is on the Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, watched by everyone in the room.

the Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October 1834

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October, 1834, 1835, British. Oil on canvas. 92 × 123.2 cm. Bequest of John L. Severance, 1942.647.