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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The River Thames with Isleworth Ferry 1805

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The River Thames with Isleworth Ferry 1805
Turner Bequest XCV 12
Pencil and watercolour with scratching and stopping out on white wove paper, 258 x 366 mm
Stamped in black ‘XCV 12’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This was a right-hand page from the sketchbook. Before the subject was recognised as Isleworth, some commentators stated that Windsor Castle is visible in the background. For Isleworth views from this sketchbook, made near Turner’s residence at Sion (or Syon) Ferry House, see Introduction and Tate D05915; Turner Bequest XCV 11. Several of these are closely related, as Hill observes. This view is perhaps from the summer-house at the bottom of Turner’s garden, which is visible in the view of Ferry House, Tate D05952; Turner Bequest XCV 48. The same graceful tree appears in both views, facing in opposite directions. There is a ferry in the left foreground as well as other boats including a sailing barge, centre. A similar view, probably with the same buildings in the right distance (mistaken in this case for Windsor Castle by Finberg) but lacking the tree, is Tate D05949; Turner Bequest XCV 45).
Dark rain clouds sweep in from the right. The angle of light to the right behind the clouds indicates early afternoon. While many commentators stress the naturalism of this and other watercolours from the sketchbook, Wilton also argues for their idealism: ‘Ostensibly an unaffected and rapidly executed view of an informal rural subject, it is in fact carefully constructed as a classical landscape’.1
Turner’s thumb print is visible above the boat, lower left.
Wilton in Wilton and Mallord Turner 1990, p.121.
Blank, save for trials of watercolour in one corner. Inscribed by an old hand in pencil ‘19’.

David Blayney Brown
January 2009

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘The River Thames with Isleworth Ferry 1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2009, 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-the-river-thames-with-isleworth-ferry-r1129947, accessed 19 November 2017.