Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Bend of the River Medway, with Rochester Castle

c.1821–2

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17218
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 7

Catalogue entry

This drawing of a bend in the river Medway at Rochester straddles two pages of the sketchbook, the facing page, folio 6 verso (D17217), predominantly occupied by Strood and Chatham, with the present sheet depicting the castle and urban sprawl of Rochester. On the far left Rochester bridge travels into the gutter of the sketchbook, with the imposing castle seated to the right of it near the centre of the page.
Eric Shanes1 highlights a highly detailed watercolour of this Rochester panorama made in 1795 (Manchester Art Gallery).2 The scene was one with which Turner made himself very familiar and to which he returned frequently throughout his career. For a list of further studies of the Medway at Rochester in the Folkestone sketchbook, and an indication of pages in the present sketchbook identified by Shanes as formative in the process of producing finished work, see the entry for folio 6 verso opposite (D17217). Also refer to the same entry for a list of pages in the current book which describe the Medway at Rochester.
At the bottom of this page Turner has made a second drawing, inverted relative to foliation. It is a further study of the Medway from the same viewpoint outlined above, predominantly focused on the left hand prospect of Strood and Chatham, but achieving the overall notion of burgeoning activity on all sides of the waterway. This drawing runs into the gutter on the right and extends slightly onto the facing page.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Shanes 1997, p.73 under no.59.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.313 no.129, reproduced.

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