Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Washburn Valley, with Leathley Church from Lindley Mill

?1808

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 446 x 592 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D12120
Turner Bequest CLIV V

Catalogue entry

This is one of ten large pencil drawings including D12110, D12111, D12113, D12115, D12116, D12117, D12118, D12119 and D12121 (Turner Bequest CLIV L, M, N, Q, R, S, T, U, W), that form a coherent group of views in the Wharfe and Washburn Valleys near Farnley Hall, the Yorkshire home of Turner’s patron Walter Fawkes, and record a tour up the River Wharfe from Farnley to Bolton Abbey. Several formed the bases of finished watercolours, some of which are dateable to 1809. The present writer has dubbed the group the ‘Wharfedale and Washburn’ sketchbook, and although the drawings do not actually form a sketchbook, they nevertheless appear to represent a single campaign, probably in the summer of 1808 on Turner’s first visit to Farnley. It is remarkable that Turner chose to sketch in pencil on such large sheets as these, and it is not at all clear what purpose the large scale was supposed to serve. They must have been problematic to handle in the open air, and we must presume that weather conditions were benign to have made it at all feasible to work with them.
The present sketch shows a view in the lower Washburn Valley not far from Farnley Hall, taken from a position above Lindley Mill looking downstream to Leathley Church. Turner sketched a similar view, but from a slightly higher viewpoint, in the Large Farnley sketchbook (Tate D09055; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 39) and revisited that viewpoint almost exactly in a slightly later sketch in the Kirkstall Lock sketchbook (Tate D12259; Turner Bequest CLV 18). The latter formed the basis of a watercolour, The Valley of Washburn and Leathley Church (private collection)1 painted for Walter Fawkes about 1818. The present writer and other scholars have mistakenly made the present sketch, rather than that in Kirkstall Lock, the basis of the watercolour,2 and this was followed by Sotheby’s in 2008.

David Hill
July 2009

1
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.372 no.627.
2
Hill, Warburton and Tussey 1980, p.28; Sothebys sale catalogue, 4 December 2008, lot 147.

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