City painting at cutting edge

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A TURNER painting owned by the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust was influenced by cutting edge scientific theories of the early 19th century, according to a new book.

The artist’s biographer James Hamilton, who was keeper at Graves Art Gallery for seven years, believes The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage at Macon was inspired by ideas expressed by the astronomer Sir William Herschel.

Sir William’s theories about the sun were contained in a Royal Society lecture in 1801 - and in France just two years later Turner painted the Macon work, which is dominated by ferocious sunlight.

Herschel believed that the sun had a surface with shallows and ridges - ideas reflected in the painting which shows it has three distinct parts.

The painting is on loan to a new exhibition which reaches the UK next year.