J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Watermill in a Gorge c.1796-7

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Watermill in a Gorge c.1796–7
Turner Bequest XLIV h
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 434 x 563 mm
Stamped in black ‘XLIV – h’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The sheet may not be directly connected with Turner’s activities at Dr Monro’s, though technically it is close to some of the later work in this group. The subject is evidently a view in southern Europe, probably the Italian Alps, and perhaps copied from a drawing by John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) or John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831). However, there are features that suggest that this is an original, possibly imaginary, composition of Turner’s own. The pencil work appears to be his; note the summary suggestions of trees on the cliff-top at left, which are not followed in the application of the washes.
Finberg1 records that the identification of the subject as Arkwright’s Mill was due to the dealer Mummery, but comments: ‘Of course it isn’t Matlock’. Turner had visited Matlock in 1794, and it is possible that he invented this composition with the Derbyshire gorges in mind, although he seems to have intended it as an ‘Italian’ scene, as indicated by the pencil cypresses on the skyline, which are, as just noted, apparently an afterthought.
MS note, Tate catalogue files.
Blank; the sheet creased, torn and stained; not stamped.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘A Watermill in a Gorge c.1796–7 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2012, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-watermill-in-a-gorge-r1141300, accessed 22 April 2018.