Executors of JMW Turner’s will ignored artist’s last request

By Nosa Omoigui
March 4 2020, 12.30

JMW Turner, artist of The Fighting Temeraire which adorns the new £20 note, had parts of his will ignored.

His estate, valued £140,000 in 1851 (around £5.5m today), included “Turner’s Gifts” – money earmarked for founding a charity to be used to build a Twickenham house for struggling artists.

Turner’s will, kept in the National Archives, states: “I direct that a charitable institution be founded for the maintenance and support of poor and decayed male artists being born in England and of English parents only.

“I direct that a proper and suitable residence be provided for that purpose.”

The cover and first page of Turner’s will

Turner purchased land for the house between Fourth and Fifth Cross Road in Twickenham, to be transferred to a trust at least a year before his death.

However, the transfer never happened, and the house was never built. 

Ken Osbourn, 74, a volunteer at Turner’s House in Twickenham said: “He recognised that he was lucky in terms of wealth and he thought about other artists who weren’t as lucky as he had been. 

“I’m sad that his wishes weren’t carried out as they were clearly his intention.”

Turner lived in Twickenham in his later years, and his Sandycombe Lodge home is available to the public. 

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