Joseph Mallord William Turner

Kingston Bank

c.1810–15

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

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 198 x 268 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900
Reference
D08177
Turner Bequest CXVIII W

Catalogue entry

Provenance:
...
Purchased from Henry Dawe by Charles Stokes by 1848, 15 guineas
Bequeathed by Stokes to Hannah Cooper, 1853
Exchanged 6 October 1854 together with Crowhurst (Tate D08172; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII R) via Thomas Griffith
...
Henry Vaughan by 1872
Engraved:
(see main catalogue entry)
Turner based the present design, engraved for the Liber Studiorum but not published, on his painting Harvest Dinner, Kingston Bank, exhibited at his gallery in 1809, which remained in his studio (Tate N00491);1 the composition shows the then-rural setting of Kingston upon Thames, to the west of London. He made a fairly close transcription, but may also have referred to the rapid oil sketch for the subject (Tate N02696),2 dated by David Hill to Turner’s residence at Isleworth – a few miles down the Thames to the north – in 1805,3 showing a wagon in the distance which was not included in the finished picture.4 In the painting and oil sketch the standing woman appears to have a bundle over her left arm, and has been assumed to be bringing a meal to the resting workers, but in the drawing she seems to have two pannier-like ‘gleaning pockets’ to collect any remaining corn after the reaping, implying her direct involvement in the harvest.5
There are other variations in the figures; the woman apparently suckling her baby in the painting may now simply be cradling it. The cart over the skyline behind the standing man in the painting is brought closer and made more prominent, and Turner appears to have indicated some of the crop still standing on the slope to the left with rapid vertical strokes, in place of his nondescript handling of the unmodulated hillside in the oil. In general the changes soften the stark ‘emptiness’ of the original, which has been sympathetically described as ‘one of his most unflinching statements about the “natural” peasant life.’6 As well as designing it as an addition to the scenes of rural labour in his Liber Pastoral category generally, Turner could possibly have considered the composition in relation to the 1819 plate Water Cress Gatherers,7 showing another group of Thameside harvesters.
1
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.66–7 no.90, pl.100.
2
Ibid., p.117, pl.160.
3
David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, pp.96, 143.
4
Forrester 1996, p.153.
5
Chumbley and Warrell 1989, p.39.
6
Hill 1993, p.143.
7
Rawlinson 1878, pp.126–7 no.62; 1906, p.148 no.62; Finberg 1924, pp.245–8 no.62.
8
Forrester 1996, pp.161–3 (transcribed).
9
Ibid., p.163 (transcribed).
10
Ibid., p.160 (transcribed).
11
Ibid., p.153 no.87ii, reproduced.
12
Rawlinson 1878, pp.144–69; 1906, pp.169–96; Finberg 1924, pp.287–365.
13
Hardie 1938, pp.66–7 no.32.
14
Ibid., p.67 no.33, reproduced p.[107] pls.XI A and B.
15
Ibid., bound opposite p.11.
16
Forrester 1996, p.153; ‘Cooper Notebooks’, vol.II, p.6 no.6 in Krause 1997, p.267
17
Forrester 1996, pp.139, 153; but see Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, p.225, listing Crowhurst, but with the second drawing as the unengraved Liber design Sion House, Isleworth (British Museum, London: see Rawlinson 1878, p.173 no.95).
18
[Taylor and Vaughan] 1872, pp.50, [54].
1
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files, with slides of overall view.

Matthew Imms
May 2006

1
Frits Lugt, Les Marques de collections de dessins & d’estampes ..., Amsterdam 1921, p.515 no.2758, reproduced.

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