Joseph Mallord William Turner

Farnley Hall and Otley from the West Chevin

c.1816

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Dimensions
Support: 285 x 460 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09056
Turner Bequest CXXVIII 40

Catalogue entry

Finberg was slightly mistaken in his identification of this view as Otley from Caley Park. Whereas Caley Park is the continuation of Otley Chevin to the east, this sketch is actually taken from the mid-slopes of the Great Dib to the south and very slightly west of Otley Church. The church tower is visible in the mid-distance left, and Otley Bridge beyond, further left. The lane to Walter Fawkes’s seat Farnley Hall can be traced right from the bridge, rising left and right to the house in the centre distance. Almscliff Crag closes the composition on the horizon to the right. Today the area is much changed by tree growth and is difficult of access and Turner’s foreground rocks are not at all obvious. However, the angles of view leave no doubt as to the general viewpoint, which, it is perhaps worth noting, appears to be at an elevation of about 450 feet, well below the now-popular summit viewpoint around 925 feet.
Turner sketched exactly the same view, with the same foreground rocks, in the Hastings sketchbook (Tate D10406; Turner Bequest CXXXIX 40a). It is perhaps curious that he should have repeated the subject so exactly. The sketch in the Hastings sketchbook is one of a series that explores the general composition and foreground arrangement leading to a ‘colour-beginning’ (Tate D17177; Turner Bequest CXCVI M) and then a finished watercolour of Farnley Hall from above Otley (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), painted for Fawkes about 1816–18.1 It might be, however, that the present sketch is still the culmination of Turner’s exploration of the site, since its large format allows by far the most intensive treatment of the detail.
Gillian Forrester draws attention to sketches on the verso (Tate D40043) of a drawing of The Felucca (Tate D08175; Turner Bequest CXVIII U), and on the verso of a watercolour of Huntsmen in a Wood (British Museum, London),2 suggesting these perhaps show the same site. The former includes figures standing on top of crags, and the latter two sketches of crags and a ‘Quarry’. Both might well show localities in the neighbourhood of Farnley Hall, but neither is specifically the same site as the present sketch.
1
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.371 no.613.
2
British Museum 1861, 0810.31.
3
Cited by Warrell 1991.
4
For the full tour see ibid.

David Hill
October 2009

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