Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Landscape with Distant Hills, Probably on the Moors near Bowes

1817

Not on display

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 116 × 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D12355
Turner Bequest CLVII 27 a

Catalogue entry

This is the beginning of a sequence of slight landscape sketches running on to folio 33 recto (D12366), with a further two on folio 50 recto (D12384) and folios 51 verso–52 recto (D12386, D12387), following a view of Barnard Castle on folios 33 verso–34 recto (D12367, D12368) and a series of blank pages (except for the slightest of abandoned sketches on folio 36 recto; D12370).
They are the last drawings made working from the front of the sketchbook as now foliated, following a sequence of County Durham views, before a long blank section (folios 53 recto–74 recto; D12388–D12409). (The sketches at the back of the book were made working inwards, mostly on the versos as foliated, and are all, except perhaps the unidentified folio 92 verso (D12445), Northumberland subjects.) It therefore appears that the panoramic, largely empty and rather cursory landscapes from here to folio 52 recto represent a digression or respite from the intense study of castles, townscapes and other landmarks elsewhere in this sketchbook and the larger Raby sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLVI; see the introduction to the tour).
The subjects remain elusive, the only clues being Turner’s inscriptions, ‘Cock Lake’ on folio 29 recto (D12358) and ‘towards Bowes’ on folio 52 recto (D12387). Bowes lies beyond Barnard Castle, on the route south-west from Durham via Raby Castle and Streatlam, recorded in the Raby book. Beyond Bowes, the moors and hills stretch in all directions for many miles; Cock Lake is a hill among the moors of the so-called Lune Forest about ten miles to the north-west. Turner had visited Barnard Castle and Bowes before turning north-west along Teesdale, skirting the northern side of the Lune Forest on his way over the Pennines to the Lake District in 1816,1 so he had recent memories of the area and perhaps revisited some familiar sites or took the opportunity to explore further. Bowes and the surrounding moors were part of the North Riding of Yorkshire in Turner’s time, but are now in the south-west of County Durham; the landscape remains only very sparsely populated.
1
See David Hill, In Turner’s Footsteps: Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England, London 1984, pp.68–73.

Matthew Imms
February 2010

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