Turner and 50 Stupid Apes

Now to reinforce that there’s an anecdotal account of Turner on varnishing that is riveting, particularly since there are so few accounts of Turner working. He never let anyone see him inside his studio. And so his performance on Varnishing was well attended.

One account will give us a visual. John Scarlett Davis writing in 1836:

…Turner has painted a large picture of ‘The Burning of the Two Houses of Parliament,’ but I have heard it spoken of as a failure–a devil of a lot of chrome. He finished it on the walls the last two days before the Gallery opened to the public. I am told it was good fun to see the great man whacking away with about fifty stupid apes standing round him, and I understand he was cursedly annoyed–the fools kept peeping into his colour box, and examining all his brushes and colors.

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