Joseph Mallord William Turner

An Idealised Italianate Landscape with Trees above a Lake or Bay, Lit by a Low Sun


On loan

Musée Jacquemart-André (Paris, France): Turner Watercolours

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 312 × 439 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 189

Display caption

This colour study has much in common with a watercolour of 'Arona, Lago Maggiore'. Like the view of 'Florence', this was a subject engraved for the 'Keepsake'. Charles Heath seems originally to have intended Turner's watercolours to contribute to a project containing Italian scenery in a publication similar in scope to that of the 'Picturesque Views in England and Wales', upon which both he and Turner were then engaged.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

This serene, luminous landscape with trees overlooking buildings and a stretch of water, which may represent a lake or coastal bay, has been tentatively connected by Ian Warrell to the watercolour Arona, Lago Maggiore of about 1828 (private collection),1 engraved for The Keepsake in 1829 (Tate impression: T05106).2 The similarities lie in the light-filled atmosphere and the combination of trees in the foreground, buildings in the middle distance and water and shore beyond, although the finished watercolour shows these in a significantly different arrangement.
Andrew Wilton has offered widely different identifications or comparisons across the range of Turner’s idealising mode in the manner of Claude Lorrain (see the introduction to this subsection),3 while Eric Shanes has suggested locations across North Devon,4 Normandy5 and the Mediterranean coast along the Riviera6 or around Genoa.7 While a specific connection to the Arona view cannot be confirmed, the present work is dated here to about the time of Turner’s 1828–9 tour of Italy,8 which had been preceded by work on various Italian views for The Keepsake.9
Compare the Claude-like central sun and contre-jour effect in Tate D25446 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 323).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.384 no.730, reproduced.
See Warrell 1991, p.70, and Warrell 2002, p.198.
See Wilton 1974, p.130, Wilton 1975, p.124, Wilton 1977, p.40
See Shanes 1997, pp.94, 96.
Ibid., p.97.
Ibid., p.98.
See Wilton 1977, p.40.
See also Wilton 1979, p.384 nos.726 and 730.
Technical notes:
The sun was reserved as bare paper within the surrounding yellow washes. The blue horizon was drawn freehand with a fine brush, without a pencil guideline.
Tate D25302 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 180), a comparable subject, was painted on another sheet of Edmonds’s paper from 1825.
Blank; rubbed and darkened overall. Inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 189’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 189’ towards bottom left.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

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