Joseph Mallord William Turner


exhibited 1806?

On loan

Dordrechts Museum (Dordrecht, Netherlands): In the light of Cuyp, Aelbert Cuyp & Gainsborough, Constable, Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1016 × 1302 mm
frame: 1380 × 1670 × 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

In this painting Turner shows rural productivity and a landscape rich with history, united by a glowing, diffuse light. A similar combination is used in Ploughing up Turnips, shown to the right. It has been suggested that the two pictures were painted to complement each other.

This painting is probably the view of Dorchester shown at Turner’s Gallery in 1810. However, the spire of St Helen’s Church in the historic market town of Abingdon is visible over the treetops, even though it was in fact two miles away.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

107. [N00485] Dorchester Mead, Oxfordshire Exh. 1810

Canvas, 40×51 1/4 (101·5×130)
Coll. George Hibbert, sold Christie's 13 June 1829 (24) for £120.15.0 bought Turner; Turner Bequest (70, ‘Abingdon’ 4'3 1/2" × 3'4 1/2"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1910.
Exh. Turner's gallery 1810 (12); Tate Gallery 1931 (42); British Council tour, Cologne (56, repr.), Rome (57, repr.) and Warsaw (56, repr.) 1966–7; Hague (45, repr.) and Tate Gallery (43, repr.) 1970–71; R.A. 1974–5 (157).
Lit. Ruskin 1857 (1903–12, xiii, pp. 120–21); Thornbury 1862, i, p. 293; 1877, p. 430; Armstrong 1902, p. 217; Davies 1946, p. 187; Clare 1951, pp. 43–5, repr. in colour p. 17; H.F. Finberg 1951, pp. 384, 386; Finberg 1961, pp. 167, 171, 472 no. 154, 513 no. 157i; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 91, pl. 47; Lindsay 1966, p. 107; Gage 1969, p. 89.

Catalogued in the George Hibbert sale at Christie's on 13 June 1829 (24) as ‘Abingdon, taken from the River— Cattle cooling themselves, Group of Lighters in half-distance, figures loading a Timber Waggon in right Bank, Sultry Sun in Mist’, and listed in the schedule of the Turner Bequest as ‘Abingdon’, this picture nevertheless seems to be the otherwise lost ‘Dorchester Mead’ exhibited by Turner in his own gallery in 1810. The title is somewhat misleading in that Dorchester Mead is some two miles from Abingdon church, the spire of which is seen in the distance, but not much more perverse than the full title of the picture to which it may well have been intended as the companion, Slough, exhibited the year before (No. 89 [N00486]).

There are related drawings in the ‘Hesperides (I)’ and ‘(2)’ sketchbooks (XCIII-21 verso, and XCIV-4 verso and, less close, 40 verso).

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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