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

Sketchbook and Drawings Connected with Cassiobury Park and Harvest Pictures for the Earl of Essex c.1807–12

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These drawings and the sketchbook are associated mainly with the 5th Earl of Essex and his Hertfordshire estate, Cassiobury Park near Watford. Turner visited Cassiobury in 1807 when he made drawings in his Fonthill sketchbook (see below) and the large separate study, D08241, as well as finished watercolours, four of which were engraved for John Britton’s The History and Description of Cassiobury Park, 1817, 1837. Turner also used the Harvest Home sketchbook to draw estate life and a harvest supper. Two unfinished pictures, Harvest Home and Cassiobury Park; Reaping (Tate N00562, N04663), were based on these and on the separate composition studies, D08216 and D08217. D08216 is inscribed ‘Ld Essex’s Harvest Home’ and Cassiobury appears in the background of the reaping subject, leading to the presumption that the pictures were intended for the Earl, as first proposed by David Hill. A third composition study, D08220, originally drawn on the same sheet of paper as ...
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D08241
Turner Bequest CXX a
Harvest Home sketchbook, D05351–D05375; D40273; D40342–D40343
Turner Bequest LXXXVI
D08216
Turner Bequest CXX C
D08217
Turner Bequest CXX D
D08220
Turner Bequest CXX G
These drawings and the sketchbook are associated mainly with the 5th Earl of Essex and his Hertfordshire estate, Cassiobury Park near Watford. Turner visited Cassiobury in 1807 when he made drawings in his Fonthill sketchbook (see below) and the large separate study, D08241, as well as finished watercolours, four of which were engraved for John Britton’s The History and Description of Cassiobury Park, 1817, 1837. Turner also used the Harvest Home sketchbook to draw estate life and a harvest supper. Two unfinished pictures, Harvest Home and Cassiobury Park; Reaping (Tate N00562, N04663),1 were based on these and on the separate composition studies, D08216 and D08217. D08216 is inscribed ‘Ld Essex’s Harvest Home’ and Cassiobury appears in the background of the reaping subject, leading to the presumption that the pictures were intended for the Earl, as first proposed by David Hill.2
A third composition study, D08220, originally drawn on the same sheet of paper as D08217 and in an identical technique, should be added to the group. It, too, formed the basis of an oil sketch or unfinished work, hitherto known as Gipsy Camp but depicting a harvest wagon and reapers (Tate N03048).3 Both the picture of Harvest Home and the related drawings show Turner’s awareness of, and competition with, David Wilkie, the young Scottish artist emerging as a rising star of the London art world for his pictures of rustic or familiar life. The Harvest Home sketchbook also contains views of Tonbridge Castle and Somer Hill in Kent, which Turner probably visited in 1810 on the way to see a new patron, John Fuller, at Rosehill Park in Sussex, and work on the harvest subjects may have overlapped with projects for other clients. Turner is said to have abandoned work on them as a result of critical ‘remarks’, perhaps made by Thomas Hearne at Cassiobury in July 1809,4 but both Harvest Home and related drawings show influence from Wilkie’s Village Holiday (Tate N00122) which was only begun that year and not exhibited until 1812. Turner seems to have been at Cassiobury again in 1809; perhaps in August, when he wrote a letter from the house5 and made drawings around the nearby Grand Union Canal in the Kirkstall Lock sketchbook (see below).
Additional Material:
Further subjects at Cassiobury and nearby are in the Fonthill sketchbook (Tate D02215–D02222, D02227, D02234, D02235; Turner Bequest XLVII 38–45, 50, 57, 58) and the Kirkstall Lock sketchbook (Tate D12245–D12248: Turner Bequest CLV 5–7). Sketches connected with Harvest Home also occur in the Studies for Pictures: Isleworth sketchbook (Tate D05546, D05548; Turner Bequest XC 36a, 37a), and with Cassiobury Park; Reaping in the River sketchbook (Tate D06017, D06042–D06044, D06046, D06048; Turner Bequest XCVI 46, 61a–62, 62a, 63a, 64a). Further sketches, probably related, are in the Hesperides (1) sketchbook (Tate D05803, D05805, D05807; Turner Bequest XCIII 23a, 24a, 25a).
1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1884, p.128 nos.209, 209a (pls.208, 209).
2
David Hill, cited ibid.
3
Ibid., pp.125–6 no.203 (pl.202).
4
Ibid., p.128, under no.209, p.68, under no.92.
5
John Gage ed., Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 1980, pp.34–5.

David Blayney Brown
December 2009

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Sketchbook and Drawings Connected with Cassiobury Park and Harvest Pictures for the Earl of Essex c.1807–12’, December 2009, 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/sketchbook-and-drawings-connected-with-cassiobury-park-and-harvest-pictures-for-the-earl-r1131856, accessed 23 November 2014.