Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Tower on a Hill, Perhaps from a River


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 321 × 488 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 70

Catalogue entry

The square tower with turrets or pinnacles in silhouette on the high skyline is probably that of a specific church, perhaps with buildings beside it, all expressed in a single register of pale brown wash. The foreground is formed of a darker, grey wash, apparently indicating a slope down from the left, with a vertical feature counterbalancing the distant tower. The grey peters out unevenly, leaving bare paper below suggesting water in the foreground reflecting the clear sky, perhaps with boats towards the right, their sails indicated by vertical strokes made with a wet brush which have interrupted and partly lifted the grey band of wash.
Eric Shanes has suggested this may be a colour study relating to the series of Turner’s watercolours engraved as Picturesque View in England and Wales (published 1827–38),1 hence the broad range date given here to the present sheet, taking the watermark into account. See also the introductions to the present subsection of unidentified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which it has been assigned.
Shanes 1997, p.96.
Blank (laid down and not inspected).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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