Joseph Mallord William TurnerValle Crucis Abbey 1808

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Artwork details

Valle Crucis Abbey
From Tabley No.1 Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CIII
Date 1808
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 226 x 295 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CIII 13
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Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 23 Recto:
Valle Crucis Abbey 1808
Turner Bequest CIII 13
Pencil on off-white wove paper, 226 x 295 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Corn’ centre and ‘Road’ bottom right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘13’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CIII 13’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
As with folio 22 in the sketchbook (D06843; Turner Bequest CIII 14), Finberg’s tentative suggestion of Valley Crucis is correct, and demonstrably so in the present case on comparison with Turner’s watercolour Valle Crucis Abbey, Denbighshire of circa 1825 (Manchester Art Gallery),1 made for Picturesque Views in England and Wales. The composition is exactly the same and despite the long time-lag between drawing and watercolour, must be the origin of the design as recognised by Eric Shanes. Previously, only a sketch in the earlier (1798) Hereford Court sketchbook (Tate D01309; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 55) had been cited as a precursor.2
Shanes notes Turner’s inscriptions specifying features of the landscape including corn in the field, confirming the artist’s visit in summer, during his trip into North Wales in 1808 (see Introduction). Christiana Payne has drawn attention to Turner’s depiction, in the England and Wales watercolour, of an open, unfenced field with gleaners and his association of pre-Enclosure agriculture with the feudal past.3
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.393 no.799.
Christiana Payne, ‘Boundless Harvests: Representations of Open Fields and Gleaning in Early Nineteenth Century England’, Turner Studies, vol.11, no.1, Summer 1991, p.10.

David Blayney Brown
May 2010

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