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It seems likely that this is the ‘portrait’ of a house in which Turner was staying: the drawing has the characteristics of a view made by a guest of the house depicted, and might have been intended for presentation to Turner’s host. The tile-hanging suggests a location in Kent, and the cottage may have been that of one of his hosts in north Kent in the late 1790s, to which period the watercolour can fairly safely be dated on grounds of style. An obvious contender is his colleague the watercolourist William Frederick Wells (1762–1836), but Wells is known to have moved to Knockholt only in 1801, rather later than the likely date of the drawing. An oil sketch (Tate D05954; Turner Bequest XCV a A),1 inscribed by Turner ‘Wells’ Kitchen Knockholt’, furthermore indicates a larger and older cottage than the one in this watercolour.
Henry Fly, curate of St Katherine’s, Knockholt between 1791 and 1813, is another friend whom Turner may have visited, as is the Revd Robert Nixon (1759–1837), of the Parsonage, Foot’s Cray, with whom Turner and the artist Stephen Francis Rigaud (1777–1861) stayed in April–May 1798.2 This cottage, however, is surely too small to qualify as a parsonage, but might conceivably have been the home of a curate.
Blank; not stamped.
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date not known