Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Village. Evening, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 243 × 307 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 168

Catalogue entry

A Village. Evening was engraved by Edward Goodall and published as the head-piece to Part I of a long poem entitled ‘The Pleasures of Memory’ in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems.1 Within this section of the poem, the narrator describes ‘the pleasing melancholy’ of revisiting the village where he once lived:2
Twilight’s soft dews steal o’er the village-green,
With magic tints to harmonize the scene.
Stilled is the hum that thro’ the hamlet broke,
When round the ruins of their ancient oak
The peasants flocked to hear the minstrel play,
And games and carols closed the busy day.
Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more
With treasured tales, and legendary lore.
All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows
To chase the dreams of innocent repose.
All, all are fled; yet still I linger here!
What secret charms this silent spot endear?
(Poems, pp.7–8)
Turner’s vignette shows the village from a distance. Two figures stand in the foreground, one of them apparently giving directions to the other. The right-hand side of the composition is occupied by a thickset ‘ancient oak’. The tree, which is half in leaf and half barren, may allude to the passage of time and the ageing process, both themes that are clearly present in Rogers’s text.
One of the most salient features of this design is the brilliant dusky blue colouring of the sky and distant landscape. Perhaps to compensate for the loss of this rich palette, certain elements of the composition are rendered more dramatically in Goodall’s engraving. For example, the contrast between the living and dead portions of the oak tree is more pronounced and the broad rays of a setting sun have been added to what was previously a moonlit evening sky.
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.7; W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.374. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T05114).
Rogers 1834, p.5.
Technical notes:
Watermark: ‘J. Whatman | Turkey Mill | 1826’
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘10’ and ‘34’ top centre left and ‘15 a’ centre and ‘CCLXXX 168’ bottom centre and ‘* D27685’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 168’ centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry


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