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The barn or bothy shown in this relatively highly worked drawing seems to have been constructed by laying planks or beams between trees, using an existing clump or spinney for the purpose, so that the uprights are the stems of growing trees. Working with the page turned horizontally, Turner exploits contrasts of light and shade with economical washes of grey and brown, to create a self-consciously composed subject reminiscent of Peter Paul Rubens’s Winter, of about 1618 (Royal Collection), which he may well have known; it had been in the Royal Collection since the mid-eighteenth century, when it was acquired by Frederick, Prince of Wales. Its unusual composition, looking out from a barn on to a snowy farmyard, the scene framed by the timbers of the barn itself, was to exert considerable influence on later watercolourists, notably Robert Hills (1769–1844) and Samuel Palmer (1805–1881).
For a proposed sequence for the leaves of the disbound Fonthill sketchbook, with this page as folio 12, see the Introduction.
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