In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 266 × 170 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXIX 96

Display caption

Turner used this sketchbook on a tour to North Wales in 1798. It includes several drawings of waterfalls. Their vertical format and compressed compositions create a sense of drama.

It was around 1798 that Turner began to develop a more spectacular and ‘Sublime’ interpretation of the national landscape. This approach shows Turner’s growing intellectual and social ambitions, which could hardly be sustained by the more modest, careful records of ancient buildings he had previously produced.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

This impressive waterfall is perhaps Swallow Falls, Rheadr Ewynnol, on the Llugwy two miles west of Betws y Coed. However, Finberg thought that the subject is ‘Probably the Rhayadr Dû, on the Black Cataract, near Ffestiniog’.1
Compare the waterfall studied on folio 47 recto (D01457; Turner Bequest XXXIX 93). The present leaf seems originally to have come after the leaf now bound as folio 48 recto (D01453; Turner Bequest XXXIX 89); see the concordance in the sketchbook’s Introduction.
Finberg 1909, I, p.92.
Blank, except for three parallel pencil strokes: ‘III’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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