This work is painted on a toned white wove paper. There is no watermark but Bower states that this paper was probably made by Whatman and that it may have been cut from the same sheet as another view of Rochester (Tate D00180
; Turner Bequest XVII E). The image is on the felt side of the sheet.1
First Turner drew lightly in graphite pencil, followed by several applications of light wash. Further detailing was then added using a fine brush. Bower suggests that Indian ink was also used in the composition but this has not been analysed.
There are several fingerprints on both sides of the sheet in a brown oil-based paint. Around these prints oily staining is evident. There is also a splash of the same paint in the centre of the sheet, on the castle wall.
In the top left corner of the recto there is a faint red stain. Closer examination revealed this to be the remains of the letters ‘X’ and ‘D’, which were handwritten in red ink. These refer to the Finberg number and they were presumably written by Finberg himself in the 1930s. When the picture is the correct way up the letters are the wrong way around. The watercolour around them has also been scrubbed away. This suggests that these letters were written here by mistake (usually the Finberg number is in the bottom right-hand corner of the recto). When the mistake was realised it seems that attempts were made to remove the ink. Although this clearly reduced the red pigment it also removed some of the watercolour from the surrounding area. During conservation charcoal dust was used to infill the white patch in the sky caused by the removal of watercolour in this area. The dust was applied in tiny quantities using a cotton wool swab.
How to cite
Helen Evans, 'Technique and Condition', January 2009, revised by Joyce Townsend, February 2011, in Andrew Wilton, ‘Rochester Castle from the River c.1793 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2012, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-rochester-castle-from-the-river-r1140304, accessed 20 December 2014.