Joseph Mallord William Turner

Doncaster Racecourse

c.1825–38

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 353 x 518 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25124
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 2

Catalogue entry

The significance of this South Yorkshire subject is obscure given that Turner’s only identified sketches in the Doncaster area date from his 1797 North of England tour (Tate D00873, D00909–D00911; Turner Bequest XXXIII B, XXXIV 4, 5, 6). Racing at Doncaster can be traced from the sixteenth century, and from 1776 at its present site.1 The grey silhouette in the distance is presumably a grandstand, while the surging forms on the left may be crowds and the dark, cursive marks to the right of centre suggest approaching horses. However, as Eric Shanes notes, the view is only identifiable thanks to Turner’s inscription.2
Shanes has suggested it may be a colour study relating to the series of Turner’s watercolours engraved as Picturesque View in England and Wales (published 1827–38).3 Turner began delivering the finished watercolours early in 1825, hence the broad range date given here to the present sheet. See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which it has been assigned.
1
‘History’, Doncaster Racecourse, accessed 10 December 2012, http://www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/about-us/history.
2
Shanes 1997, p.26.
3
Ibid., pp.26, 95, 104.
Technical notes:
There is a vertical fold down the middle of the sheet.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘AB 92 P | O’ and ‘CCLXIII 2’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 2’ bottom left. There is some light colour offsetting to the right of the centre.
The ‘AB’ number corresponds with the endorsement on one of the parcels of works sorted by John Ruskin during his survey of the Turner Bequest, in this case classified by him as ‘Colour effects. Valueless’.1

Matthew Imms
March 2013

1
Transcribed in Finberg 1909, II, p.814.

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