Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping at Rochester, on the River Medway

c.1821

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 112 x 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17396
Turner Bequest CXCIX 19

Catalogue entry

This page displays a very faint view of Rochester from the northern bank of the River Medway, focusing on three light craft in the foreground, at right. The broad tower of Rochester Castle is visible to the immediate left of the tangle of sails and rigging that dominates the view. A brief spike towards the left indicates the position of the Cathedral. At far right, towards the bottom of the sheet and running across the gutter onto folio 18 verso (D17395) Rochester Bridge juts out into the water. At far left, faintly outlined boats closer to the river’s edge are evident.
As recognised by Finberg, this page is one of four preparatory studies in the present sketchbook for the watercolour Rochester, on the River Medway of 1822 (Tate D18156; Turner Bequest CCVIII W),1 which was engraved by Thomas Lupton for the Rivers of England series and published in January 1824 (Tate impressions T06370, T04796–T04798).2 Ian Warrell groups this page alongside folios 10 recto, 18 recto, and 18 verso (D17381, D17394, and D17395) as those which directly influenced the finished composition.3
Peter Bower reproduces an image of this page to illustrate the quality and nature of the Thin Post wove writing paper in Turner’s Post Octavo notebooks, in this case produced by Richard Barnard of Hollingbourne.4 For further information see the Technical Notes in the Introduction to this sketchbook. For more information about critical attitudes towards this and the other preparatory sketches of Rochester, and for a list of studies of the town in the present book and elsewhere, see the entry for folio 18 recto (D17394).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.385 no.735, reproduced.
2
Finberg 1909, I, p.608.
3
Warrell 1991, p.31.
4
Bower 1999, pp.39–40 no.12, ill 12A.

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