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Now he's known as the nations' greatest painter and, some of Turner's finest work has been brought together for a unique exhibition in Sussex.
It was a county that was very special to him - and now his finest views of the area are being seen together for the first time.
It's taking place at Petworth House - a place that not only inspired him, but became his rural retreat. Stacey Poole reports and speaks to Andrew Loukes, House and Collections Manager.