Joseph Mallord William Turner

Aysgarth Force, Looking down the Fall

1816

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 125 x 206 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D11460
Turner Bequest CXLVII 12

Catalogue entry

Aysgarth Force is the furthest downstream and the grandest of three falls on the River Ure at Aysgarth. In this sketch Turner is looking downstream from the left bank at the top of the falls. The higher ground to the right is the subject of an earlier drawing in this sketchbook, recording Wensleydale from above West Burton (folio 10 recto; D11457). The present subject is continued to the left on the facing page, folio 11 verso (D11459).
The building against the trees in the left distance is the Belvedere Temple. This two storey octagonal structure, with a shallow domed lead roof, survives, fairly well hidden by trees, by the side of the main road to West Witton opposite Temple Farm. It was built in 1792 by John Foss of Richmond for T.J. Anderson of nearby Swinithwaite Hall. It seems to have been intended as an estate ornament, principally to provide a platform from which to survey the surrounding prospect of Wensleydale. When built, admiration for such scenery would have constituted quite advanced taste. It is all the more remarkable that a gentleman should have gone to such lengths to encourage it. It must have given the scenery in this area a certain celebrity, and possibly accounts for Turner’s panoramic treatment of the area, for example in his foregoing sketch, D11457.
Turner sketched a similar view in the Yorkshire 2 sketchbook (Tate D11269; Turner Bequest CXLV 135), which accompanied him on the same tour.

David Hill
February 2009

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