Joseph Mallord William Turner

?A Distant Town in a Valley

c.1820–40

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 300 × 438 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25267
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 145

Catalogue entry

This rather slight and incoherent composition is difficult to make out; it seems to focus on domes and spires in the central distance, possibly with hills on either side. Eric Shanes has proposed it as a Swiss subject, without further elaboration.1 Turner’s visits there began in 1802 and continued until 1844, but pending further research the sheet is here dated in line with the other generic subjects in this section.
The dark area on the left suggests a crag with a building on the skyline, though whether Finberg’s title, ‘A distant castle on rock’,2 referred to this is a moot point. Other works in this section with distant buildings include Tate D25321, D25335, D25351, D25359 and D25377 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 199, 213, 229, 237, 254).
1
See Shanes 1997, p.105.
2
Finberg 1909, II, p.825.
Technical notes:
The sheet is rubbed, darkened and stained over much of its area.
Verso:
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
December 2015

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