Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Head of Derwentwater with Lodore Falls, Looking into Borrowdale

1797

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 274 x 370 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D01084
Turner Bequest XXXV 82

Catalogue entry

The subject was drawn with the page turned horizontally. A view from a nearby point is on folio 25 recto (D01021; Turner Bequest XXXV 19). The house at the extreme left here is Barrow Cascade House. A finished watercolour of this subject apparently relying on these two studies, Head of Derwentwater with Lodore Falls, was executed for Joseph Farington (1747–1821) in 1801 (private collection);1 it is inscribed and dated ‘Keswick Augt. 1801’ and Turner scholar David Hill takes this to mean that it was executed actually on the spot, on Turner’s return journey from Scotland that summer. A colour study for the watercolour is Tate D01102 (Turner Bequest XXXVI H), and a further study (Tate D01103; Turner Bequest XXXVI I) may also have been involved.
While it possible that he made one or other of the colour studies ‘from nature’, and D01103 has very much the air of such a plein air exercise, it would be most uncharacteristic for Turner to have painted a finished watercolour on the spot, especially by means of preparatory colour studies, and at the end of an extremely busy and protracted tour. The inscription on the verso of the present leaf is some evidence that material in this sketchbook was used for Farington’s work; although of course having noted Farington’s choice of subject he might have taken the opportunity while passing through Keswick to revisit the site. On balance it seems more probable that he took his inscription ‘Keswick’ from one of the sketchbook leaves on which he relied: folio 25 recto (D01021) is thus inscribed. If he did stop in Keswick at the end of his Scottish tour he may have felt a pang of conscience at having failed to deliver Farington’s present sooner, and the inscription, recording a more recent visit to the spot, might have been added to testify to the freshness and authenticity of the image.
1
Wilton 1979, p.331 no.282, reproduced.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Mr. Farington’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
August 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

Explore