Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Valley with Houses and a Distant Bridge, Probably in County Durham or Northumberland

1817

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 232 × 328 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D12311
Turner Bequest CLVI 29

Catalogue entry

This sketch continues for the full width of folio 15 recto (D40764) opposite. The scene remains unidentified but is presumably in County Durham or Northumberland, recorded elsewhere in this sketchbook, or possibly on the way to or near Farnley Hall, Walter Fawkes’s home in North Yorkshire, where Turner came to rest at the end of his travels (see the introduction to the tour). The drawing on folio 3 recto (D12312) shows similar country and was perhaps made nearby.
The sketchbook has been tightly rebound, disrupting the appearance of the buildings in the foreground and on the distant hillside, which in both cases run into and across the gutter to the opposite page. The buildings near the skyline were clearly of interest to Turner, as (presumably on the same occasion) he devoted a page of his Durham, North Shore sketchbook to studies of the long building, apparently a farmhouse, crossing the gutter here, the bridge to its left and the low, chapel-like building to its right (Tate D12445; Turner Bequest CLVII 92). There seem to be no matches for any of these structures among extensive Durham and Northumberland County Councils’ photographic archives of local listed buildings and other sites,1 although the farmhouse appears characteristic of the area.
The immediate context of this subject, between sketches of Hylton Castle, Northumberland on folio 13 recto (D12276; CLVI 10) and Bishop Auckland Castle, County Durham on folio 15 verso (D12294; CLVI 20) seems to offer no clues, while the complementary Durham, North Shore sketch mentioned above falls between unrelated studies of Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland.
Relative to the general sequence of this sketchbook and the foliation used here, the present page is bound as the verso of the leaf, and according to Finberg’s usual practice would have been numbered ‘29a’. However, there appears to have been particular confusion as to the sequence of pages, some or all of which may have been loose in 1909 (see the introduction to the sketchbook).
1
Searches conducted at Keys to the Past, accessed 4 February 2010, http://www.keystothepast.info.

Matthew Imms
February 2010

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