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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Keswick Lake, for Rogers's 'Poems' c.1830-2

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Keswick Lake, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’ circa 1830–2
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 181
Watercolour, approximately 120 x 140 mm on white wove paper, 242 x 305 mm
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 181’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This vignette, Keswick Lake, was engraved by Edward Goodall and published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, illustrating Part II of a long poem entitled ‘The Pleasures of Memory’.1 The image complements Rogers’s ode to the sublime beauty of the Lake District:
Once, and domestic annals tell the time,
(Preserved in Cumbria’s rude, romantic clime)
When Nature smiled, and o’er the landscape threw
Her richest fragrance, and her brightest hue,
The rocky pass half-hung with shaggy wood,
And the cleft oak flung boldly o’er the flood;
Ere the rapt youth, recoiling from the roar,
Gazed on the tumbling tide of the dread Lodore;
And thro’ the rifted cliffs, that scaled the sky,
Derwent’s clear mirror charmed his dazzled eye.
Each osier isle, inverted on the wave,
Thro’ morn’s grey mist its melting colours gave;
And, o’er the cygnet’s haunt, the mantling grove
(Poems, pp.35–7)
Turner highlighted many of these lines with pencil in the margins of his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (see Tate; Turner Bequest CCCLVI pp.42–3). His own rendering of the scene draws closely upon Rogers’s vision, described by Adele Holcomb as ‘Gilpinesque’.2 The ‘rapt youth’, appears in the foreground accompanied by a small dog, and like the viewer gazes upon the magnificent Keswick Lake, also known as Derwentwater. The ‘tumbling tide’ of the Lodore Falls, a well-known feature of the lake, occupies the entire left side of the image. Turner has effectively depicted the mass of water by leaving it as untouched white paper. The waterfall figures even more centrally in Turner’s preliminary study for Keswick Lake (see Tate D27608; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 91). In developing these compositions, Turner may have referred to his Tweed and Lakes sketchbook which he used during his 1797 tour of the Lake District (see for example Tate D01021, D01084, D01087; Turner Bequest XXXV 19, 82, 85). He later composed another watercolour of the view toward Lodore Falls, Keswick Lake, (Derwentwater) circa 1835, for the engraved topographical series Picturesque Views in England and Wales (British Museum).3
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.36; W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.378. There are no impressions of this engraving in the collection.
Holcomb 1966, pp.85–6.
Wilton 1979, no.871.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘13’ upper centre left and ‘21 | a’ centre and ‘CCLXXX 181’ bottom and ‘D27698’ bottom left. Also in red ink ‘1036’ bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 181’ lower centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Keswick Lake, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’ c.1830–2 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, 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-keswick-lake-for-rogerss-poems-r1133342, accessed 20 April 2018.