A COLLECTION of paintings by one of England's greatest painters is on display at Winchester Discovery Centre.

Turner and the Sun, an exhibition curated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, will be the first ever to be devoted solely to the artist’s lifelong obsession with the sun.

In the weeks prior to his death, J.M.W. Turner is said to have declared (to John Ruskin) ‘The Sun is God’ – what he meant by this, no-one really knows, but what is not in any doubt is the central role that the sun played in Turner’s lifelong obsession with light and how to paint it.

Through twelve loans from Tate Britain – the majority of which are rarely on public display – the exhibition will consider how the artist repeatedly explored the transformative effects of sunlight and sought to capture its vivid hues in paint.

Some of Turner’s most acutely observed images of the sun are his informal, private exercises in watercolour and experiments with wash and colour.

Swiftly executed, sometimes in batches, they capture transient effects where the sky is utterly dominated by the effects of the sun.

A selection of these will be seen in the exhibition, and they are normally only viewed by appointment.

Exhibition curator Nicola Moorby said: “We all know that Turner is the great painter of the sun, but what is particularly interesting is trying to analyse why.

“One of the reasons he is such an exciting and inspirational painter is because he has a very experimental approach to technique. In order to try and replicate the effects of the sun in paint, he uses a whole range of visual tricks and devices.

“Turner doesn’t just try to paint the sun. He seems to want to actually try and replicate its energy and light so that it shines out of his pictures.”

Janet Owen, chief executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, said: “By combining naturalistic observation with imaginative flights of fancy, Turner’s light-drenched landscapes encapsulate the elemental force of his art and remain as dazzling today as they were for a contemporary audience. We are thrilled to be able to shine a spotlight on them here in Hampshire.”