Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Silent Pool


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 193 × 276 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXVI G

Catalogue entry

This sheet was once part of a larger one, later divided into four,1 each quarter of which Turner worked on in watercolour. In relation to the others, its painted side would have originally been at the bottom left on the verso. However, it is probable that it and Tate D08222 (Turner Bequest CXX I) were separated from the sheet and each other before being worked on, as there is no sign of washes from either overlapping onto adjoining quarters (Tate D08109, D25373; Turner Bequest CXVI H, CCLXIII 251). Here, the brown washes appear as globules at the bottom and right of the sheet, and were worked over heavily at the centre, with prominent finger prints above the water to the right and in the central ‘tunnel’, below which there are bluish-white touches on the water (and less purposefully in the branches to the right).
With their similar techniques and overall colouring, this work and D08222 (CXX I) appear more closely related to the style of Turner’s Liber Studiorum drawings (see in particular the riverside compositions in the Studies for Liber sketchbook: Tate; CXV) than do the two other separated works; the present sheet and D08109 (CXVI H) were listed in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory in his first grouping of Liber drawings, dated to circa 1806–10.2 However, the two further ‘quarters’ share the watermark ‘Whatman | Turkey Mills | 1822’. As Gillian Forrester notes, such works ‘may be ideas for pure mezzotint’ or ‘may not have been made with print-making in mind at all.’3 If there is a direct connection between any of them and the Liber, it is possible that they date to circa 1824, around the time Turner was working on other unpublished designs, such as The Felucca (Tate D08175; Turner Bequest CXVIII U) and Moonlight on the Medway (Tate D25451; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 328).
Forrester 1996, p.25 note 92.
Finberg 1909, I, p.316.
Forrester 1996, p.25 note 92.
Blank, save for inscriptions.
Inscribed in pencil ‘14’ and ‘9’ [circled] centre, ‘Silent Pool’ bottom centre, and ‘D 08108’ and ‘CXVI G’ bottom right

Matthew Imms
May 2006

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