Transforming Turner’s Hidden Corners
Of the 11 works Arius has digitized in collaboration with Tate Britain, “Peace - Burial at Sea” by J. M. W. Turner is especially remarkable and provided the perfect opportunity for our team to work on a digital restoration prototype.
Displayed to the public in a grand, gold octagonal frame, few realize that the frame’s purpose reaches beyond the extravagant aesthetics of a frame that might have been all the rage in the Victorian era. What lies beneath the thick golden corners of the frame is evidence of Turner’s intentional experiments with frame shapes and how it changes the perspective of paintings.
While art historians don’t know the true reason Turner decided to paint some works in square or round, or octagonal frames, it’s likely that Turner wasn’t sure himself at the time of painting. In “Peace - Burial at Sea”, the exposed corners show underlayers of sketches from the artist, with thicker layers of paint and varnish up to the borders of the frame.
Pushing our digital restoration capabilities to the test, Arius was able to create both a true replication alongside a ‘fixed’ prototype of the work in square format. Our art production team also digitally removed what was most likely the unintentional build up of soot or dirt, which most likely would have collected on the painting's surface while on display before being housed at Tate.
Side by side, the textured prints of both the painting ‘as is’ and ‘fixed’ provide a fascinating insight into what might have been, depending on Turner’s framing decision at the time.