Joseph Mallord William Turner

A River Seen from a Hill


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 787 × 794 mm
frame: 950 × 950 × 125 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

This is an unfinished work in the square format used by Turner in the 1840s, usually for exhibited pairs of paintings. The subject, a river landscape with a bridge, might be an Italian scene, but this remains unclear. The use of areas of pale, contrasting colour to denote the features of the landscape is somewhat reminiscent of the unfinished colour studies Turner made in watercolour, known as ‘colour beginnings’.

Gallery label, February 2016

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Catalogue entry

532. [N05475] A River Seen from a Hill c. 1840–5


Canvas, 31 × 31 3/4 (79 × 79·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (157, one of 2 each 2'7 3/4" ×2'7" with No. 504); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Exh. Arts Council tour 1952 (22); Athens 1980 (76, repr. in colour).

Lit. Davies 1946, pp. 157, 188; Herrmann 1978, p. 773; Wallace 1979, p. 109, pl. 1; Butlin 1981, p. 45.

An oil beginning, square in shape and probably done in the early 1840s when Turner was experimenting with such formats; c.f. especially No. 504 [N05482]. The canvas bears the form of Thomas Brown's stamp that seems to have come into use in about 1839. The scene, with a bridge and twin poplars, may be Italian but is not necessarily so.

The original paint has been lost all down the left-hand edge.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984


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