UNIVERSITY of York art historians are curating a new exhibition of JMW Turner’s paintings of whaling as part of Hull’s UK City of Culture celebrations.

Turner and the Whale represents a rare opportunity to see together three of the four whaling canvasses produced by the acclaimed marine and landscape artist in 1845-1846.

The exhibition, on display at the Hull Maritime Museum from this Saturday, is curated by Professor Jason Edwards and AHRC-funded PhD student Martha Cattell of the University of York's Department of History of Art.

Professor Edwards said: “For me, what's particularly important about the show is the way that it encourages us to think about human-animal interactions, as well as the Arctic, at a time of mass species extinctions and irreversible climate change."

“The Arctic landscape has changed utterly since Turner's day, in part as a response to the shift, in the painter's period, from whale oil to light candles and streets and to lubricate industrial machinery, to fossil fuels.”

Turner was one of the 19th-century’s greatest and most prolific marine artists. However, when he showed the whaling canvasses in pairs at the Royal Academy summer exhibition in London, they received a mixed press among his contemporaries.

Today’s critics in contrast, frequently view the paintings as a triumphant exercise in Turner's still challenging abstract late style.

For the exhibition, Turner’s paintings will be shown alongside work by his contemporaries in Hull, as well as some of the museum's renowned collection of scrimshaw - engravings created by whalers using bones and teeth of marine mammals - and Inuit art.

Turner and the Whale will be on display until the end of the year. Entrance is free.