Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Windmills opposite Rochester


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 x 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 10

Catalogue entry

As ascertained by Finberg, here Turner turns his attention to the windmills stationed opposite Rochester, on the other side of the River Medway.1 Repeating and elaborating upon the diagonal cross motif used on the recto and verso of folio 9 (D17222–D17223), these appear to correlate with three Strood mills recorded by local historian William Coles-Finch.2 They comprised of the geographically eponymous Strood Hill Mill, and two on nearby Broom Hill; Killicks Mill and Fields Mill. All three were destroyed later in the century but would have been in full working order in the early 1820s. The rest of the prospect looks towards Chatham across a bend in the Medway; the distant town is vaguely characterized by the Great Lines and coastline busy with maritime vessels.
Eric Shanes cites this page as one of several likely sources for a delicate watercolour study for Rochester, Stroud and Chatham, Medway of around 1830 (Tate D25231; Turner Bequest CCLXIII), itself related to the completed Picturesque views in England and Wales series Rochester, Stroud and Chatham, Medway engraving made by J.C. Varall in 1838 (Tate impression: T06127) based on Turner’s lost watercolour of about 1836.3 For a more detailed list of studies which consider the Medway at Rochester in this sketchbook, and for those pages identified by Shanes as contributing to finished works on the subject, see the entry for folio 6 verso (D17217).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.604.
William Coles-Finch, Watermills & Windmills: a Historical Survey of their Rise, Decline And Fall as Portrayed by Those of Kent, Sheerness 1933, p.73.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.402 no.877, as destroyed 1955.

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