Joseph Mallord William Turner

Richmond, Yorkshire

c.1826–8

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

Medium
None
Dimensions
Support: 391 x 489 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17204
Turner Bequest CXCVII N

Catalogue entry

This colour study relates to the watercolour Richmond, Yorkshire, of about 1826–8 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge),1 engraved in 1829 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04542, T04543, T06082). Richmond and its castle are loosely indicated above the River Swale, seen from the west. There is an 1816 pencil study in the Yorkshire 5 sketchbook (Tate D11540, D11541; Turner Bequest CXLVIII 11a–12); see also the skyline shown in the Yorkshire 2 sketchbook (Tate D11231; Turner Bequest CXLV 115a).
Although the finished watercolour is usually dated a year or two before it was engraved,2 the date suggested here for the present study, David Hill has suggested that the design was completed as early as 1819, with the study made around 1818–19, for Dr Whitaker’s General History of the County of York 3 ‘just before Longmans cancelled their agreement for the full complement of 120 watercolours’.4 In this he follows Finberg, who described it as a ‘Study for the Whitaker “Richmond, Yorks.”’, and grouped it with work of about 1820.
Andrew Wilton has suggested that the ‘colour beginning’ A Yorkshire River of about 1827 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC) is ‘possibly related’ to the Richmond composition;5 there are affinities in colour and handling, although the topography suggests a different location.
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
1
Wilton 1979, p.394 no.808, reproduced.
2
See for example Malcolm Cormack, J.M.W. Turner, R.A. 1775–1851: A Catalogue of Drawings and Watercolours in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Cambridge 1975, pp.51–3 no.25, Wilton 1979 p.394 and Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, p.185.
3
See Hill 1984, and Luke Herrmann, ‘Whitaker, Dr Thomas Dunham (1759–1821)’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.380.
4
Hill 1984, p.65.
5
Wilton 1979, p.404 no.891, reproduced; see also Spender in Spender and Fry 1980, p.158.
Technical notes:
There is a vertical fold at the centre of the sheet, where watercolour has gathered and darkened, indicating that the crease was present as Turner worked. There is another crease, right across the sheet below the horizon.
Verso:
Blank (laid down and not examined).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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