London – An early architectural watercolour, East Cliff Lodge, Ramsgate, the seat of Lord Keith, by J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) is to be offered at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on Wednesday 5 July 2023. It is estimated at £30,000-50,000.
Bonhams Director of Old Master Paintings, Caroline Oliphant, said: “East Cliffe Lodge dates from 1796-7 when the artist was in his early 20s and is one of several architectural watercolours Turner executed around this time. Topographical commissions were a good and dependable way of earning a living for young aspiring painters but, this being Turner, the results are, of course, rather special.”
East Cliffe Lodge was designed in the gothic revival style by Charles Boncey and completed by 1794. Early owners included George Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith (1764-1823), a Scottish-born naval officer who served in the American Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was Commander in Chief of the North Sea Squadron while living at Cliffe Lodge; the house gave him an excellent view of the Downs anchorage.
In 1831, East Cliffe was acquired by Moses Haim Montefiore (1784-1885), a British financier, banker, activist, and philanthropist. Sheriff of London, Fellow of the Royal Society, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a key figure in British Jewish history he was knighted in 1837. Moses and his wife Judith spent their honeymoon in Ramsgate, fell in love with the area and rented East Cliffe Lodge for some years before buying it.
Montefiore built a private synagogue in the grounds of East Cliffe and, following his wife’s death in 1862, commissioned a mausoleum where they both now lie. On nearby land he founded the Judith Montefiore College. Most of the house was demolished in 1954 but the synagogue, mausoleum and college remain.