Joseph Mallord William Turner

An Upland Valley, with a Woman Driving Geese


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 285 × 460 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXVIII 36

Catalogue entry

Hitherto this subject has been described as ‘Wharfedale’ but there is nothing specific to identify the scene, although it is presumably somewhere near Farnley Hall, the seat of Turner’s friend and patron Walter Fawkes. The landscape appears almost totally denuded of trees, which suggests a location quite high up one of the side valleys off Wharfedale. The greatest probability would be the Upper Washburn Valley, and perhaps in the area of Blubberhouses or Thrusscross, although this part of the valley has been somewhat altered by the construction of reservoirs.
The sketch shows several large plumes of rising smoke, even though conditions appear to be damp. This is probably from the controlled burning of heather, which would suggest a very late season since this operation is usually carried out between November and March.
The geese are rather reminiscent of those in the foreground of the watercolour of Wycliffe (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),1 painted c.1816–18.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.365 no.568.
Technical notes:
The centre of the sheet is conspicuously faded, presumably a result of its exhibition in the nineteenth century.
Blank, except for a pencil inscription ‘CXXVIII 36’ and a small splash of blue watercolour, probably made while Turner was developing a watercolour from folio 37 (D09053), opposite.

David Hill
October 2009

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop