Joseph Mallord William Turner Windmill and Lock c.1811

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Windmill and Lock
Date c.1811
Medium Etching and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Image: 177 x 258 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by W.G. Rawlinson 1913
Reference
N02941
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Catalogue entry

Provenance:
William Say
...
John Heugh, sold Christie’s, London, April 1878
...
Francis Stevenson
...
William George Rawlinson by 1906
Engraved:
Etching and mezzotint by Turner and William Say, untitled, published Turner, 1 June 1811
Turner’s Liber Studiorum design is taken from his painting Grand Junction Canal at Southall Mill, exhibited at his gallery in 1810 (currently untraced).1 The present sheet is an impression of Turner’s outline etching, with washes added by him as a guide for William Say’s mezzotinting (that Say retained it subsequently is shown by his blind-stamp below the image). No freehand wash drawing of the usual Liber type is known, and Turner may have worked directly from the painting, which was based in turn on slight studies of a windmill, lock and bridge in the Windmill and Lock sketchbook (Tate D08053, D08055, D08056; Turner Bequest CXIV 71a, 72a–73), supposed to have been made between Brentford and Hanwell, to the west of London.
Turner’s early biographer Thornbury reported that Turner recorded the scene one night, returning from visiting his friend the Rev. H.S. Trimmer at Heston,2 about ten miles from central London – and not far west of Isleworth, where Turner had lived by the Thames in 1805. Rawlinson was informed that the mill had been near the site of a later asylum in Hanwell,3 the site of which is now occupied by St Bernard’s Wing, Ealing Hospital, between the Uxbridge Road to the north and the Grand Union Canal and Osterley Park to the south. There are several locks along this stretch, and Windmill Lane crosses the canal at Windmill Bridge a little to the west.
In a lengthy comparison with the windmill in The Coast of Brittany, near Doll (engraved 1836; see Tate impressions, T05647, T05648) by Turner’s contemporary Clarkson Stanfield, Ruskin criticised Stanfield’s picturesque approach – apparently uncomprehending of the mechanism and functionality of a windmill – as against Turner’s realism in his Liber composition, ‘though none of these elements of form are pleasant ones in themselves’. Typically, he read it as ‘a dim type of all melancholy human labour ... catching the free winds, and setting them to turn grindstones. ... Turner has no joy in his mill. It shall be dark against the sky, yet proud, and on the hill-top; not ashamed of its labour’.4 The subject of a silhouetted windmill may have been partly influenced by the painting The Mill by (or after) Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), exhibited at the British Institution in London as recently as 1806, to which Turner referred in his notes and lectures5 (National Gallery of Art, Washington).
1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.72–3 no.101, pl.108 (colour); Martin Butlin, ‘Lost, stolen and destroyed works’, in Evelyn Joll, Butlin and Luke Herrmann eds., The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.178, as stolen in 1991.
2
Cited in Butlin and Joll 1984, p.72.
3
Rawlinson 1878, p.61.
4
Cook and Wedderburn VI 1904, pp.17, 18, 19.
5
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.73.
6
‘The Grand Junction Canal’, London Canal Museum, accessed 10 April 2006, http://www.canalmuseum.org.uk/history/grandjun.htm.
7
Forrester 1996, pp.77–8.
8
Brooke 1885, p.91.
9
[J.E. Taylor and Henry Vaughan], Exhibition Illustrative of Turner’s Liber Studiorum, Containing Choice Impressions of the First States, Etchings, Touched Proofs, together with the Unpublished Plates, and a Few Original Drawings for the Work, exhibition catalogue, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London 1872, p.27 no.27.
10
Forrester 1996, pp.160–1 (transcribed).
11
Finberg 1924, p.xliii; Forrester 1996, pp.13–14.
12
Forrester 1996, p.161 (transcribed).
13
Rawlinson 1878, pp.59–68; 1906, pp.69–79; Finberg 1924, pp.105–24.
14
Ibid.: 1878, p.197; 1906, p.232; Finberg 1924, p.108.
15
Rawlinson 1906, p.6 collector’s mark no.2; Frits Lugt, Les Marques de collections de dessins & d’estampes ..., Amsterdam 1921, p.500 no.2651, reproduced.
16
Rawlinson 1878, p.59.
17
D[ugald] S[utherland] MacColl, National Gallery, Millbank: Catalogue: Turner Collection, London 1920, p.42.
18
Rawlinson 1906, pp.69–70.
19
Rawlinson 1906, p.6 collector’s mark no.8, reproduced; Lugt 1921, p.494 no.2624, reproduced.

Matthew Imms
August 2008

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