Joseph Mallord William Turner

An ?Italian Landscape with Rocks and Trees


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 276 × 381 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 211

Catalogue entry

Finberg called this roughly executed but atmospheric colour sketch (somewhat more forceful and less idealised than others in the present subsection) an ‘Italian landscape’,1 seemingly on no particular topographical evidence. Eric Shanes has also suggested Italy,2 albeit adding Scotland as an alternative, acknowledging Ian Warrell’s unpublished suggestion.3 He also noted a loose correlation with a pencil drawing made between Llanberis and Nant Ffrancon in North Wales in the 1799 Dolbadarn sketchbook (Tate D02119; Turner Bequest XLVI 82a), perhaps more on account of the mountainous terrain than any direct resemblance.
The pale hills are outlined fairly precisely in pencil, perhaps indicating a topographical source, but the composition is largely characterised by the strong red-brown foreground and the dark central area which suggests trees over a shadowy pool. Compare the handling and scenery in Tate D25321 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 199),4 which may be a free variation on similar terrain, where the central element in a similar pale ochre suggests a tower on the skyline. For lack of any further pointers, Finberg’s generic dating of about 1820–30 has been retained in the present instance.
Finberg 1909, II, p.830.
See Shanes 1997, p.98.
Ibid., p.101.
See ibid., pp.98, 101.
Technical notes:
The edge of the sheet is notably irregular towards the right along the top edge and down its left-hand side. There are watercolour test strokes at the top left.
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

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