Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Girl Crossing a Stream on a Fallen Tree Trunk in a Valley ?near Trematon Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 95 × 157 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXI 68

Catalogue entry

Jack Lindsay has mentioned this drawing, made with the page turned horizontally, and the central inscription ‘Girl crossing’ as ‘the link’ in a psychological analysis of the genesis of Turner’s major West Country oil painting Crossing the Brook, exhibited in 1815 (Tate N00497),1 showing a view south down the broad Tamar Valley from above Gunnislake Bridge.2 The figure here seems to be descending along the upper part of a fallen trunk, which plays no part in the painting, and any slight overall compositional similarity seems to be entirely fortuitous. See also the entries for folios 84 recto, 118 recto (D09309, D09345) and 251 recto (D09428; Turner Bequest CXXXI 162a). For sketches, probably made in 1813, which actually relate directly to the painting, see the Vale of Heathfield sketchbook (Tate D10271, D10273, D10274; Turner Bequest CXXXVII 46a, 47a, 48).
The sketches between folio 36 recto (D09255) and folio 43 recto (D09263) were made in the vicinity of Trematon Castle, above the St Germans or Lynher River west of the River Tamar and Plymouth. It is possible that the tower on the skyline here is that of the castle. The subjects as far as folio 127 recto (D09358) are all identified or presumed sites within a few miles in and around Plymouth, suggesting a series of fairly short excursions.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.93–4 no.130, pl.123 (colour).
Lindsay 1966, p.242 note 33; see ibid., p.152 for his discussion of the painting.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

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