Turner painting known as Ruskin's View sold for £217,250

The watercolour by JMW Turner The watercolour by JMW Turner features a view from the churchyard in Kirkby Lonsdale

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A painting of a Cumbrian landscape, described by the art critic and social thinker John Ruskin as a "priceless possession", is sold at auction in London for more than £200,000.

The watercolour by JMW Turner features the churchyard of St. Mary's Church in Kirkby Lonsdale.

The painting, now known as Ruskin's view, was last seen at auction in 1884.

Auctioneers, Bonhams, sold the painting in a sale of 19th Century paintings, drawings and watercolours in London.

The painting was sold, via telephone, to a private UK buyer for £217,250 inclusive of buyer's premium.

The watercolour was previously owned by Sir Donald Currie, a shipping magnate and major collector of Turner's works who, at various times, owned 57 of his watercolours and 14 of his oils.

It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London as part of the exhibition Turner: The Great Watercolours, between December 2000 - February 2001.

Ruskin owned an engraving of the work which he donated to the Ruskin School of Drawing at Oxford University in 1875. It was transferred to the Ashmolean Museum in about 1949.

'Priceless possession'

One of the largest collections of items connected to Ruskin in the UK is held at the University of Lancaster.

Professor Stephen Wildman, from the Ruskin Library and Research Centre, said before the sale: "It isn't certain whether Ruskin ever saw the watercolour itself. However, he did urge the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University to buy it in 1884.

"He would have known the subject from the engraving in Whitaker's History of Richmondshire (1821)."

Ruskin, an influential critic and artist, wrote of the area in Fors Clavigera, Letter 52, April 1875: "I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine, or a more priceless possession of true 'Holy Land'."

It is at some point following the publication of this work that Professor Wildman believes the viewpoint became known as Ruskin's View.

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