Joseph Mallord William Turner Distant View of Fonthill Abbey from the East, with the Lake in the Foreground and a Team of Oxen 1799

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Artwork details

Title
Distant View of Fonthill Abbey from the East, with the Lake in the Foreground and a Team of Oxen
From Fonthill Sketchbook
Turner Bequest XLVII
Date 1799
Medium Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 335 x 433 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D02223
Turner Bequest XLVII 46
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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In 1799 Turner received a commission for a series of views from Willian Beckford, an eccentric and very wealthy landowner, who was just then constructing his gothic abbey at Fonthill, not far from Salisbury. In the five large watercolours that Turner subsequently exhibited at the Royal Academy, he depicted the incomplete abbey from different points on the estate, but the titles given in the catalogue emphasised Turner's aim of recreating specific times of day in each drawing: morning, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening. In some of the sketches he made for the series, such as this work, it is clear that he had already begun to understand the dramatic possibilities inherent in naturalistic effects.

September 2004

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