Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cassiobury: The House seen in the Distance from the West, across the Park


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 327 × 433 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLVII 58

Catalogue entry

Made with the page turned horizontally, this is one of eight exterior drawings of Cassiobury in this sketchbook; see also D02215 (continued on D02219), D02216–D02218, D02221, D02222, D02227 (Turner Bequest XLVII 38 (continued on 42), 39, 40, 41, 44, 45, 50), together with an interior surviving as two fragments (D02220, D02234; Turner Bequest XLVII 43, 57). Turner made them in compliance with a commission for a set of watercolour views from the Earl of Essex (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Watford Museum; private collection; private collection).1 He visited the Hertfordshire house during the summer or autumn of 1807, that is, some years after the 1802 Swiss subjects which preceded them (see the sketchbook’s Introduction and proposed concordance).
The artist Joseph Farington commented in his diary for 15 November 1807 that ‘Charles Long, Lord Essex etc., cannot be brought to relish [topographical watercolourist Thomas] Hearne’s drawings; but think them cold and tame imitations. Turner has lately made drawings of Cashiobury [sic] which have an effect which pleases them.’2 Like several of the views of Fonthill that Turner had drawn in this book in 1799 (see for example D02180, D02190, D02228; Turner Bequest XLVII 3, 13, 51), this prospect of Cassiobury presents the distant building beyond a screen of trees. From the full-leaved trees in these drawings we must infer that he visited in late summer; an alternative reading of Turner’s inscription is ‘Nutting’, to indicate people looking for hazelnuts (in autumn); but the reading ‘Nettles’ seems more probable.
Respectively Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.320 nos.189–192, the first and third reproduced.
Kathryn Cave ed., The Diary of Joseph Farington, vol.VIII, New Haven and London 1982, p.3141, and Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Second Edition, Revised, with a Supplement, by Hilda F. Finberg, revised ed., Oxford 1961, p.149
Technical notes:
For a proposed sequence for the leaves of the disbound Fonthill sketchbook, with this page as folio 48, see the Introduction.
Verso: smear of blue-grey colour

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

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