Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Cloudy Sky above a Wooded Landscape, Perhaps in the Thames Valley


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 102 × 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLIII 4

Catalogue entry

The subjects from folio 3 recto (D10778) to folio 6 recto (D10781) await positive identification, but the views of Southwark Bridge preceding them (see under folio 1 recto; D10775) and the subsequent sketch of Greenwich on folio 7 recto (D10783) suggest that they are all likely to be River Thames scenes around London. Here, with the page turned horizontally, there are no landmarks in the rural setting, possibly the Thames Valley west of London, apart from the structure apparently indicated on the left. Turner has inscribed various colour notes in the sky, with strokes at top centre presumably indicating sunbeams radiating up from the left, perhaps around dawn or sunset. There are similar notes on folio 6 recto (D10781).
On the basis of ‘the style of the drawings’, Gerald Wilkinson suggested a slightly later dating of 1818 for this and the other examples he reproduced from this sketchbook (folios 5 recto, and 6 recto and verso; D10780–D10782), and thus for the book as a whole: ‘They have a quality hard to define: perhaps of light. They introduce the final phase of Turner’s dialogue with his River.’1 However, Finberg’s dating of c.1815–16 has been retained in the present catalogue, as set out in the sketchbook’s introduction.
Wilkinson 1974, p.170.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

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