Joseph Mallord William Turner

Totnes from the River Dart

1811

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Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 75 x 117 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08542
Turner Bequest CXXIII 91 a

Catalogue entry

Totnes is seen to the north-west up the River Dart, with the castle and St Mary’s Church towards the centre. There is a similar view on the recto (D08541). Eric Shanes has identified the present sketch as the basis for the watercolour Totnes, on the River Dart of about 1824 (Tate D18135; Turner Bequest CCVIII B),1 engraved in 1827 for The Rivers of England.2 Two drawings in the contemporary Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook (Tate D08854, D08855; Turner Bequest CXXIV 39, 40), which have been noted in relation to the watercolour, show other aspects of the town,3 as does the sketch on folio 139 recto (D08625; CXXIII 136).
Along with other sketches of Totnes in the later Devon Rivers, No.2 sketchbook, there is one from a similar viewpoint (Tate D09726; Turner Bequest CXXXIII 48) which probably also informed the Rivers of England composition.
Turner writes of the town in his poetry on folio 164 verso (D08670; CXXIII 161a).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.386 no.747, reproduced.
2
Shanes 1981, p.152; see also Shanes, Joll, Warrell and others 2000, p.158.
3
Wilton 1979, p.386 under no.747.

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