Joseph Mallord William Turner

Elevation and Details of the Chinese Fishing Temple at Virginia Water


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 120 x 203 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 74

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the main sketch economically shows only the left half of the symmetrical south side of the Chinese Fishing Temple pavilion overlooking Virginia Water, with isolated details of its roof, mouldings and brackets. There is a looser sketch of the building on folio 75 verso opposite (D22117; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 73a).
Turner’s annotations suggest a colour scheme of black or blue, red, white and gold. As seen at an oblique angle in the watercolour Virginia Water of about 1829 (private collection),1 one of two engraved for The Keepsake in 1830 (Tate impressions: T04618, T06141), the building appears predominantly white with accents of bright colour. The details here would have been more important in informing the second watercolour of about the same date (untraced),2 a closer head-on view from the south, also engraved in 1830 (Tate impressions: T04616, T04617, T06140). The building was renovated in the Swiss style in 1867 and demolished in 1936.3
For other views around Virginia Water, see under folio 73 verso (D22113; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 71a).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.359 no.519, pl.141 (colour).
Ibid., no.520.
See Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, p.277.

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