Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Boat on the River Thames with Trees Beyond

c.1827

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 × 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20741
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 5

Catalogue entry

The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. In discussing a ‘colour beginning’ of Garrick’s Villa at Hampton (Tate D25145; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 23) based on pencil drawings elsewhere in this sketchbook (see under folio 21 verso; D20764; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 20), Ian Warrell has observed that the present scene and another watercolour on folio 37 recto (D20787; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 35) are ‘similar ... in their treatment of Thames scenery under cloudy summer skies’.1
There are no identifiable landmarks here, and the scene may be at least in part improvised, but it has a feeling of the rural Thames as Turner often depicted it through much of his career.2 See under folio 2 verso (D20736) for identified views along the river in the vicinity of Hampton Court.
1
Warrell 1991, p.47.
2
See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993.
Technical notes:
This is the first of several pages where the monochrome grey wash common to all the rectos has been worked in watercolour with occasional scratching out; in this instance there is extensive scratching out to expose the white paper and render bright cloud, and sparkling reflections on the water in the distance. See also folios 27 recto and 28 recto (D20774, D20776), and folios 29 recto, 34 recto, 37 recto and 39 recto (D20803, D20783, D20787, D20791; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 43, 32, 35, 37). Folio 33 verso (D20781; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 31) is a watercolour in a similar mode, but made on the unwashed white face of the leaf.
The verso (D20742) shows signs of the leaf being removed and mounted at some stage, although its exhibition history if any is unrecorded.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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