Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Valley with a Cloudy Sky


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 114 x 188 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXII 29

Catalogue entry

This is among a sequence of twenty-five recto pages of watercolour landscape, sea and sky compositions between folio 9 recto (D18609) and folio 34 recto (D18638), many of which evoke quiet Thames Valley scenes with water in the foreground; for a checklist and general comments, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.
John Gage has observed: ‘The very swift and summary brushwork’ of these watercolour pages ‘might lead us to suppose that it is from nature; but p. 29 has colour washes over written colour notes, which would seem to imply that this is not the case.’1 In this instance there seems to have been an existing topographical pencil drawing with annotations in its cloudy sky, continuing across folio 28 verso opposite (D18632), that half remaining untinted. The double-page sketch may have been made in the Thames Valley, with what may be a sail and distant buildings on the other page and a bridge near the gutter on this. The sky here has been gone over in watercolour, seemingly independently of the pencil clouds, and it may be that Turner took the slight drawing in his stride and adapted half of it to his new purpose, or simply ignored it.
Gage 1969, p.35.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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