Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Lake Surrounded by Mountains, Possibly Derwentwater in the Lake District

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: 145 × 249 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25421
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 298

Catalogue entry

This is the most precisely worked of the ‘colour beginnings’ of likely British subjects in the present grouping, but its exact subject remains elusive despite the carefully articulated topography of the mountains, enlivened by red and white cattle by the lakeside. Eric Shanes has tentatively suggested Derwentwater in the Lake District as the subject.1 Turner had first visited Cumbia (then largely Cumberland and Westmorland) on his tour of the North of England in 1797, as extensively documented in his North of England and Tweed and Lakes sketchbooks (Tate; Turner Bequest XXXIV, XXXV), returning in 1809, 1816 and 1831.
From the potential sources among drawings made on the first tour, Shanes has highlighted two views south over Derwentwater from Calfclose Bay in the Tweed and Lakes book (Tate D01021, D01084; Turner Bequest XXXV 19, 82), and a related view on a larger sheet, perhaps made in 1801 (Tate D01103; Turner Bequest XXXVI I).2 A less naturalistic development of the theme is the watercolour Keswick Lake, Cumberland, of about 1835 (British Museum, London),3 engraved in 1837 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04608, T06124).
There are enough variations between the mountain forms outlined in these works and others4 and those developed here to leave the identification, dating and purpose of the present sheet uncertain. Within the present grouping, Tate D25388 (CCLXIII 265) may be also a view of mountains in the Lake District.
1
See Shanes 1997, p.98.
2
Ibid.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, pp.401–2 no.871, reproduced.
4
See David Hill, Turner in the North: A Tour through Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, the Scottish Borders, the Lake District, Lancashire and Lincolnshire in the Year 1797, New Haven and London 1996, pp.104–8, Pls.149–156.
Technical notes:
There is a slight stain below a shallow diagonal line running down from about the middle of the right-hand edge.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII 298’ bottom right. The shallow diagonal noticeable on the recto is here evident as a fold. Another sharp vertical fold, 25 mm from the left-hand edge on this side, is less evident on the recto.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

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