Joseph Mallord William Turner

View on Lake Como with Olive Trees

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 111 x 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14242
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 51

Catalogue entry

The exact location of this sketch is currently unidentified but it depicts a view of Lake Como, possibly the western shore seen from the opposite (eastern) side of the western branch. As Turner’s inscription at the bottom of the page indicates, his main focal point for the study is in fact the grove of olive trees in the foreground, behind which can be seen the basin of the lake with the mountains rising above. The artist has captured the twisting, gnarly forms of the trunks and branches, and the contrasting areas of light and shade. The silhouette of a sailing boat is also just visible in the centre of the composition. A small part of the line of the mountains has spilled over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 51 verso (D14241; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 50a). The view may relate to a circular expedition of Lake Como which left the city of Como and followed the western perimeter of the lake by boat as far as Laglio before returning by road along the eastern shore of the western branch.1 For further sketches of Lake Como see folio 48 (D14234; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 47).
The drawing was selected by Ralph Nicholson Wornum for the Second Loan Collection, a group of sixty-two works exhibited in the provinces during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.2 It was removed from the sketchbook and displayed within a mount. Consequently, like the other works included in those tours, the page has suffered badly from over-exposure to light and the paper has yellowed considerably.

Nicola Moorby
January 2013

1
See Crimi 2007, p.27.
2
Warrell 1991, pp.43–5.

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