Joseph Mallord William Turner

At Chatham, on the River Medway


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 52

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook predominantly inverted according to its foliation, across this and the facing page on folio 51 verso (D17451) Turner records multiple views of Chatham on the River Medway in Kent. The latter portion of this identification was made by Finberg.1
The topmost prospect seems likely to describe Turner’s view as he turned his attention North, looking upriver, with Chatham Dockyard at right. A cluster of vessels at right, comprised both of large ships and smaller, light craft, seems to support the latter suggestion. At far right, closer to the gutter, buildings are briefly indicated, with a line of windows marked with dots. The left portion of this view, the riverbank opposite the dockyard, is comprised predominantly of undulating topography. The rooftops of buildings on this more distant shore are indicated, but architectural characteristics are largely unelaborated.
The view described across the centre of this sheet continues from beginnings on the facing page, and demonstrates the waterfront buildings of Chatham from a south westerly perspective. Large hulks are indicated at left. To the immediate left of centre, one of these is loosely hatched, perhaps in demonstration of form rather than shadow.
In a lighter hand, Turner makes a final drawing with the page oriented according to its regular foliation. The overall composition, with two distinct topographic mounds at left, and ships and buildings at right, emulates in less detail the sketch of the River Medway made along the opposite edge of the sheet.
There are a great number of drawings of Chatham in this sketchbook. For an indication of their significance, and a comprehensive list of the pages upon which they are inscribed, see the entry for folio 22 recto (D17402).
Finberg 1909, I, p.609.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like