Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Wycliffe on the River Tees

c.1830

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 308 x 488 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25144
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 22

Catalogue entry

Unlike the composition on the other side of the sheet, a likely view of Norham Castle (Tate D40191), the present colour study has attracted little attention. Its loosely worked masses suggest a wooded river valley with a hill set against a sunset or sunrise beyond. Eric Shanes has suggested that it is a later variation on the watercolour Wycliffe, near Rokeby of about 1820 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),1 engraved in 1823 for Whitaker’s History of Richmondshire (Tate impressions: T04455, T04456, T04457, T06042),2 and based on an 1816 pencil drawing in the Yorkshire 4 sketchbook (Tate D11482; Turner Bequest CXLVII 26). That composition shows Wycliffe Hall, County Durham, set on a distant hillside to the east with morning light streaming over the surrounding woods from behind it.
The present, rather generic composition varies significantly from the Richmondshire watercolour in the juxtaposition of its various elements, and the slight resemblance may be fortuitous, but Shanes’s Wycliffe suggestion is tentatively retained in the absence of any other. He dates the other side (D40191) to about 1830, from the starting point of an 1828 watermark which he records, although this is not readily evident in the sheet (see the technical notes below). Nevertheless, the loose yet confident execution appears consistent with other England and Wales colour studies datable on various grounds to the late 1820s or early 1830s, and Shanes’s date has been adopted here.
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.365 no.568, reproduced.
2
Shanes 1997, pp.95, 100, 104.
Technical notes:
The work is currently set in a double-sided window mount, with Tate D40191 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 22) visible on the other side. Eric Shanes has noted an 1828 watermark,1 but this is not apparent despite close examination.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

1
Ibid., pp.95, 100.

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