Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Gothic Church and an Oak Tree; an Oak Tree with a Figure

1825

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 187 x 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D18754
Turner Bequest CCXIII 26 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, Turner has produced two studies, one above the other. They probably show different aspects of the same ancient, gnarled oak tree. The upper view includes a rural church beyond, with a buttressed, castellated square tower and a small porch; compare the evocative juxtaposition of the church and tree in the watercolour vignette of An Old Oak of about 1830–2 (Tate D27691; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 174) for Samuel Rogers’s Poems, although the composition is not directly related. The second study here shows the trunk of an oak, with a slight figure, apparently that of a woman in a bonnet, looking down at an object – presumably a gravestone. The setting may be West Sussex, as this page follows a sequence of identified views in that area (see the sketchbook’s Introduction).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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