Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Bend of the River Medway, at Rochester


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 8 a

Catalogue entry

Made across this and the facing page on folio 9 recto (D17222), the prospect describes a detailed view of the river Medway, taking in Strood on the left, Chatham with its Great Lines and the Brompton Barracks in the middle distance, and Rochester on the right. As identified by Finberg, a focal point is the bend in the river.1 Boats are scattered across the water and Turner has paid particular attention to topographic details of the landscape; jagged lines denoting sharp features contrast with smooth ones indicating gently rolling hills; perspective and distance are carefully constructed to achieve a convincing topographical impression.
Erich Shanes cites this double page composition as a likely source for a delicate watercolour study for Rochester, Stroud and Chatham, Medway of about 1830 (Tate D25231; Turner Bequest CCLXIII), itself related to the completed Picturesque views in England and Wales series Rochester, Stroud and Chatham, Medway engraving made by J.C. Varall in 1838 (Tate impression: T06127),2 based on Turner’s lost watercolour of about 1836.3 For more detailed lists of studies which consider the Medway at Rochester, and the pages identified by Shanes as contributing to finished works, see the entry for folio 6 verso (D17217).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.604.
Shanes 1997, p.73 under no.59.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.402 no.877, as destroyed 1955.

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