Early JMW Turner watercolour in Surrey saleroom


An early watercolour by JMW Turner RA (British, 1775-1851), consigned by the descendants of the patron for whom it was painted, comes to auction at Ewbank’s in Surrey on June 22 estimated at £30,000-50,000.

Charles Monro’s House at Finchley (1793-4), is a 22 x 29cm, signed, mounted and framed corner view of an imposing mansion set among trees. It depicts the home of the brother of Turner’s patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759-1833), a serious collector who also supported Peter De Wint, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman, among others, and established an academy and what became known as The Monro Circle of artists.

Dr Monro rose to prominence, not just as a patron and art collector, but also as one-time consulting physician to King George III.

An amateur artist himself, three of his sons became artists.

The painting, whose subject was the home of his elder brother Charles, passed to Charles’s son and namesake, before descending through the family to the current day. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887, and in the Monro Academy Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1976.

The house is identified by a signed inscription to the reverse of the artwork by his son, the younger Charles, reading: “Original drawing of my father’s House Nether Street Finchley made for him about the year 1793 or 4. Charles Monro.”

The reverse of the frame bears an inscription by Robert W. Monro, nephew of the younger Charles Monro and the son of Thomas Monro, dated 23rd July 1874 and alluding to the main inscription by Charles Monro to the reverse.

Ewbank’s partner, Andrew Ewbank, said: “This is a delightful painting packed with detail and character, as well as demonstrating considerable draughtsmanship. Turner would have been about 18 when he painted it, and his assured hand in its composition makes this an important historical document in the story of the artist, as its inclusion in distinguished public exhibitions has shown.”