Joseph Mallord William Turner

Chalfont House from the South-West


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 49

Catalogue entry

Finberg was mistaken in thinking that the subject here, made with the page turned horizontally, is Cassiobury1 (see D02215–D02222, D02227, D02234, D02235; Turner Bequest XLVII 38–45, 50, 57, 58). In fact, it is Chalfont House, at Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, a Gothic Rococo house built in 1755 for Horace Walpole’s brother-in-law, Colonel Charles Churchill, by the architect of Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, John Chute. By the turn of the century it was owned by Thomas Hibbert (1744–1819), who had commissioned John Nash to make alterations to the house in about 1799, at the same time bringing in Humphrey Repton to revise the parkland setting originally planted by Capability Brown. The house was further remodelled in 1836 by Anthony Salvin, and is now the headquarters of a commercial organisation.2
Around the time of his changes, Hibbert commissioned watercolour views of the house and estate from Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) between about 1797 and 1800 (private collection),3 while two finished watercolours by Turner in a private collection were made around the latter date.4 One of Turner’s designs5 shows the house from the same direction as in this study, looking to the north, but with the morning sun coming from the right rather than the afternoon light suggested by the shadows washed in here. The other, a distant view, corresponds with a pencil drawing in this sketchbook (D02179; Turner Bequest XLVII 2).
Finberg 1909, I, p.122.
See Susan Morris, ‘Mr Girtin’s Views of Chalfont’, Country Life, vol.196, no.30, 25 July 2002, pp.62–3; and Greg Smith, Peter Bower, Anne Lyles and others, Thomas Girtin: The Art of Watercolour, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2002, p.184.
Morris 2002, pp.62–3 pls.1, 3 (colour); Smith 2002, pp.184–5 nos.145, 146, reproduced in colour.
Not in Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979; see Morris 2002, p.63, and Smith 2002, p.184.
Morris 2002, p.62 fig.2 (colour).
Technical notes:
The drawing is executed in pencil, pen and brown ink and brown and grey washes. The lower right corner has been torn away and made up. For a proposed sequence for the leaves of the disbound Fonthill sketchbook, with this page as folio 4, see the Introduction.

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

Revised by Matthew Imms
February 2015

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