Joseph Mallord William Turner

A River or Pool with Wooded Banks and Distant Buildings

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: 187 × 280 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25345
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 223

Catalogue entry

This sequestered view focuses on the effect of dark water reflecting the shade of surrounding trees. Gerald Wilkinson has described it as ‘very like Berry Pomeroy Castle, which was painted in monochrome for the Liber Studiorum’;1 see the entry for the watercolour study of about 1812–15 for that design (Tate D08159; Turner Bequest CXVIII E).
While noting the possibility of a ‘development’ from that idea,2 Eric Shanes has also compared it with a ‘colour beginning’ in a private collection,3 traditionally described a view of Barnard Castle in County Durham,4 and associated with the untraced watercolour of about 1825 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),5 engraved in 1827 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04517–T04518).
The pale grey buildings on the skyline here perhaps include a ruined house or castle, and what looks like a tall, pinnacled church tower, suggesting another specific subject, albeit unidentified as yet. Tate D25360 and D25407 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 238, 284) in the present section are loosely comparable compositions.
1
Wilkinson 1975, p.106.
2
Shanes 1997, p.93.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.404 no.890, reproduced.
4
See Shanes 1997, p.93.
5
Wilton 1979, p.392 no.793, reproduced.
Technical notes:
Palm or finger prints are evident in the area of water below the centre. The bright yellow pigment to the right remains fresh. There is some slight staining, and there are marks around the edges from contact with a previous mount.
Verso:
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

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