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Rendered with swift and cursory handling, here Turner records the sun setting in a cloud-strewn sky. This study is one of a small group of sunsets depicted in Turner Bequest CCX which are believed to have been taken at or near Farnley Hall, the North Yorkshire estate of Turner’s close friend and patron, Sir Walter Fawkes (see also Tate D18378–D18379, D18477; Turner Bequest CCX 41a–42, 93).1 This is owed to an inscription written by the artist at the bottom right of the sunset: ‘Farley Nov 30’.
According to Fawkes’ wife Maria’s diary, Turner stayed at Farnley Hall from 19th November to 14th December 1824.2 This was to be the artist’s last visit there, as Sir Walter died tragically only a year later in 1825. Never without drawing materials, Turner recorded part of his visit in the now broken up and dispersed Farnley-Munro sketchbook. In it he painted watercolour sunset studies and pictures of the locality as well marine ideas and orientalised views of Brighton (see general introduction). 3 While scholars have correctly associated the Farnley-Munro sketchbook to Turner’s final visit to Fawkes’ ancestral home, so far no attempt has been made to study these rough pencil sketches in the same context. 4 This is despite the presence of Turner’s own inscription ‘Farley Nov 30’ (a rare record of location and date) and the sunset sketches’ clear relation to watercolour studies of sunsets in the Farnely-Munro sketchbook.5
Other, heretofore unidentified, pencil sketches in this book were also produced during Turner’s 1824 visit to Farnley: see Tate D18381–D18383, D18387–D18388; Turner Bequest CCX 43a–44 55, 45c–46. These show the countryside around Fawkes’ estate and the church at nearby Leathley. Kirkstall Abbey, which lies around sixteen kilometres to the south of Farnley Hall, is extensively studied on Tate D18390–D18391, D18393–D18399, D18409–D18416; Turner Bequest CCX 48–48a, 50–53, 58a–62.
For more information see entry by James Hamilton, ‘Fawkes, Walter Ramsden’, in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, pp.103–05.
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.639 and Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Second Edition, Revised, with a Supplement, by Hilda F. Finberg, revised ed., Oxford 1961, p.287.
Ian Warrell, Turner’s Sketchbooks, London 2014, p.134–5.
See A.J. Finberg, ‘Turner’s Newly Identified Yorkshire Sketchbook’, The Connoisseur, October 1935, pp.185–7; Ian Warrell, ‘The Farnley-Munro Sketchbook’ in Lowell Libson (ed.), Lowell Libson Ltd 2014, pp.89–101 (the catalogue is available to view online at http://www.lowell-libson.com/downloads/files/2014Catalogue.pdf) and Warrell 2014, p.134–5