Joseph Mallord William Turner

A View in the Lake District: ?Coniston Water


On loan

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum (Aarhus, Denmark): Turner Watercolours: Sun is God

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 548 × 770 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVI L

Catalogue entry

Finberg suggested that this is a view of Coniston Old Man, and it seems likely that the scene is somewhere in the Lake District: it may well be a view looking across Coniston Water from the eastern shore. The subject does not relate to any of the sketches that Turner made in his Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest XXXV), and the study may date from a little after the tour: the handling of watercolour is close to that found in a sequence of studies for a view at Stourhead of 1798 (Tate D01907–D01909; Turner Bequest XXXVI C, D, E). It exemplifies his early experiments with stopping-out, by which means the figures are alone indicated, except for a few disconnected strokes of the pencil, which is used sparingly throughout the sheet. The presence of the figures is not a secure indication that Turner intended to bring the work to a finished state, but might bear that interpretation.
Apart from the two oil paintings of Lake District subjects that Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798, Morning amongst the Coniston Fells, Cumberland (Tate N00461)1 and Buttermere Lake (Tate N00460),2 no finished works emerged from his visit to the Lakes in 1797; another watercolour study probably depicting the same part of the world but on a smaller scale is Tate D01117 (Turner Bequest XXXVI W).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.3–4 no.5, pl.6 (colour).
Ibid., p.5 no.7, pl.5 (colour).
Blank; the sheet dirty, creased and splashed with ink.

Andrew Wilton
January 2013

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