Joseph Mallord William TurnerCheddar Gorge: The Lion Rock from the Village 1811

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Cheddar Gorge: The Lion Rock from the Village
Date 1811
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 222 x 182 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D41374
Turner Bequest CXXV b 1
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Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
Cheddar Gorge: The Lion Rock from the Village 1811
D41374
Turner Bequest CXXV b 1
Pencil on white wove paper, 222 x 182 mm
Watermark ‘H | 1808’
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘[?Ston]’ and ‘[?G]’ towards top centre, and ‘[?Clear Mill Run]’ bottom left
Inscribed by C.F. Bell in pencil ‘1.’ top left, ascending vertically
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXXV.B – 1’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s viewpoint is The Cliffs, the road leading east from Cheddar village into the gorge, looking east from near the junction with Cufic Lane. The upright outcrop apparently inscribed ‘Ston[e]’ is the Lion Rock, so named since its south face resembles that animal’s features, although Turner has not indicated its profile in any detail, by contrast with the apparently anthropomorphic reading of Stonehenge’s Heel Stone on folio 12 recto (D41385). The shallow diagonal to the right is the skyline on the far side of the road where it bends sharply to the north; the detail at the top centre appears to be another version of this rock.
In adopting a vertical format for the sketch, Turner ran out of lateral space. The crags at the top right are a continuation of the view from the same spot, but in reality they are further to the right, rising from Turner’s lower central skyline on the south side of the road at the bend. Today tea rooms and a museum occupy the position of the houses sketched here. Some of these buildings may date from Turner’s time, unlike the utilitarian ones now framing the entrance to Gough’s Cave on the opposite side of the bend. The present sketch is the first in a sequence, concluding on folio 8 recto (D41381), showing Cheddar Gorge; most of the studies were apparently made in a concentrated area around the Horseshoe Bend.
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’, which appear to have originally been loose sheets, are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject as ‘Group of Cottages among Rocks’ in a manuscript list,1 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Rocky gorge’.2 The reading of the inscription at the bottom left follows Finberg’s suggestion, although the first word might just be ‘Cheddar’ or a variant, and the last word is also uncertain. ‘Mill’ is at least definite, as a broad mill pond remains beside the road at this point. Figures corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of each sheet.
1
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.357, as CXXV(b) 9.
2
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356C, as CXXVB 1.
Technical notes:
The sheet is wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp.
Verso:
Blank, save for inscription by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘213 | 9’ bottom left, descending vertically (partly trimmed). There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet, and a stray pencil stroke at the top right.

Matthew Imms
May 2010

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