Joseph Mallord William Turner

?A River, with Rushes

c.1834–6

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 77 × 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28804
Turner Bequest CCXCI b 13

Display caption

Turner often developed landscape ideas by means of rough colour sketches. In this tiny sketchbook Turner clearly explored his memories and/or imaginings, rather than recorded his direct observations. On the present page he elaborated a memorable river scene, although the visual data is so relatively minimal that the imagery verges on abstraction.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction. The title of the present work follows Eric Shanes’s suggestion of the subject as a landscape study, perhaps of rushes by a river,1 as opposed to the many adjacent paged evoking dark interiors and beds with figures; compare folio 11 recto (D28802), and see the Introduction, where other landscapes are noted. Shanes describes the way ‘Turner could explore remembered or imagined landscapes in his sketchbooks wholly in terms of colour’, even if ‘the visual data is so relatively minimal that the image seems entirely elusive and verges on abstraction.’2
1
Shanes 1997, p.65.
2
Ibid.
Verso:
Blank, save for offsetting of watercolour from folio 14 recto opposite (D28805).

Matthew Imms
May 2014

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