Written by aningeniousname
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Topics: Money, Monkey, Art, Auction

Thursday, 3 May 2007

image for J.M.W Turner pioneer of ape art
The only known photo of Turner's favourite ape "Dr Snuggles"

London- A small terraced house in a run down corner of the nation's grand capital is the last place one might expect to find the startling new evidence that has shaken the world's art markets and cast a cloud of doubt upon one of the most celebrated of British artists.

But it is from this small house in quiet Mafeking gardens that Mr Frank Titchmarsh first revealed the existence of
what are rapidly becoming known as the "Turner diaries".
Mr Titchmarsh, an avid collector of all things Turner, told me of how he first discovered the bundles of handwritten pages in a Charing cross Oxfam " I was just casually looking through the fifty pence or less box when I saw them and immediately recognised the spidery hand writing as the Maestro's. I very calmly paid the old lady behind the counter her fifty pence and then ran all the way home; I was so excited."

Now this discovery in of its self would be a startling find and guaranteed to hit the front pages of every major news paper in the world, but what makes this discovery so earth shattering is the detailed description of Turner's hitherto unknown working methods.
The documents reveal that Turner, lacking inspiration after his first major exhibition, began to secretly recruit a team of young chimpanzees with the idea of training them in the correct use of light and shade and then exhibiting the simian creations as his own work.

Turner installed the six apes, he had gathered together, in the vast attic space of his london home and began the exhausting task of training the primates.
Their early attempts were by all accounts crude daubs and an exasperated Turner considered giving up the whole plan as a bad idea until one day in early june 1796 one of his art apes finally produced something Turner was glad to sign and claim as his own, a study in oils he titled "Fishermen at sea"

The painting went on to be exhibited to great success at the Royal Academy and put the seal on Turners reputation as the hot young turk of the British art scene.
Turner continued to use the chimps to produce most of his work from that point onwards and declared to friends that working in this way gave him the freedom he craved and left him more time to indulge in his hobby of rampant pedophilia.
The apes though worked hard, were greatly loved by Turner and one chimp named "Dr Snuggles" became such a great friend and companion that it was not unusual to see the two riding through the London streets in an open carriage laughing manically and waving at passers by.

What effect these latest discoveries will have on the price of Turner's work is still unclear but one expert from Sothebys told me "It shouldn't affect prices too much at all, if anything it will boost them because it shows Turner as the true pioneer he was."
As for Mr Titchmarsh's documents museums around the world are said to be engaging in a fierce bidding war to become the new owners of a small piece of art history.

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