Joseph Mallord William Turner

Zurich: Sample Study

c.1841–2

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

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 241 x 304 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D36147
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 291

Display caption

In 1842 and again in 1845 Turner completed views of Zurich, looking down towards the lake from high above the city. The appearance of the study for the earlier of these (no.22) puzzled Ruskin. He considered that it belonged 'to an embarrassing class of Turner's sketches. It is not easy to see the use of carrying them so far, unless these views were to be ultimately completed, nor why the textures should be so highly laboured throughout, while the details wanted for completion are lost sight of.' The reason for this can perhaps be attributed to the fact that Turner seems initially to have planned to develop the sketches themselves, but later decided to rework his compositions on larger pieces of paper.

Gallery label, September 2004