Joseph Mallord William TurnerChatham, Looking towards Rochester and the Medway c.1830

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Artwork details

Chatham, Looking towards Rochester and the Medway
Date c.1830
MediumWatercolour on paper
Dimensionssupport: 305 x 497 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 164
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Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chatham, Looking towards Rochester and the Medway c.1830
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 164
Watercolour on white wove paper, 305 x 497 mm
Watermark ‘B.E. & S, | 1827’
Inscribed in red ink ‘164’ bottom right (now very faint)
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 164’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This colour study has been identified by Eric Shanes as relating to the watercolour Chatham of about 1830 (private collection),1 engraved in 1832 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04588, T04589, T05089). Turner’s pencil study of the Kent view west over Rochester and the Medway is in the Gravesend and Margate sketchbook (Tate D27351; Turner Bequest CCLXXIX 45).2 The foreground in the finished design is rather less prominent but, among other elements, Shanes links the vertical form at the far left, the upright forms at the bottom right and the roughly brushed ‘X’ towards the bottom left here respectively to the walls of Fort Amhurst, marching Marines and the webbing straps of another Marine in the finished design, carried through from similar marks in the original drawing.3
Shanes regards the composition as one of a pair with the England and Wales view looking back in the opposite direction, Rochester, Stroud and Chatham, Medway, Kent (the watercolour design, of about 1836, was destroyed by fire in 1955),4 discussed under a comparable colour study (Tate D25231; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 109) which was perhaps executed alongside the current work, although the lost watercolour apparently dated from several years later than Chatham.5
For a colour study possibly showing central Rochester with its castle and bridge, see Tate D25474 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 351). See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.398 no.838.
See Shanes 1997, p.73 no.61.
See ibid., p.74.
Wilton 1979, p.402 no.877.
See Shanes 1997, pp.21, 73, 74, 96; see also Piggott 2001, p.7.
Technical notes:
Dark, mottled staining at the bottom right also shows through to the verso.
Blank, save for inscriptions: in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 164’ and ‘D25286’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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