Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Sawmill, with a Distant View of Bassenthwaite Lake, Perhaps from near Applethwaite


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 274 x 370 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXV 30

Catalogue entry

The subject was drawn with the page turned horizontally. Bassenthwaite Lake is the most northerly of the Lakes, and it is possible that Turner visited it on the road to or from Cockermouth, of which he made a drawing on another page of this book, folio 30 recto (D01022; Turner Bequest XXXV 20). Turner scholar David Hill conjectures that his viewpoint was somewhere near Braithwaite, a good distance from the southern end of Bassenthwaite, on the road from Keswick to Cockermouth. This view would not, however, include the lake itself, but only the flat plain of the River Derwent, with Skiddaw in the distance, and the drawing can be interpreted as showing those features.
However, if this proposal is correct, it suggests that Turner made a long excursion to Cockermouth without taking time to draw Bassenthwaite Lake itself, despite his apparent intention of drawing as many of the lakes as possible on this tour. The mountaineer and art historian Peter Bicknell has suggested1 that the view is from Applethwaite, just north of Keswick on the southern slopes of Skiddaw, looking west towards Bassenthwaite Lake, which is visible in the valley. The concentration of detail in that part of the drawing indicates that it is the area that interested Turner most, with the implication that this is indeed Bassenthwaite Lake itself. In that case the hills beyond must be Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell.
Oral communication.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram; inscribed by Finberg in pencil ‘141.30’.

Andrew Wilton
August 2010

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like