Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cliveden on Thames

?exhibited 1807

Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 392 × 590 × 17 mm
frame: 512 × 712 × 62 mm
Bequeathed by Mrs Elizabeth Vaughan 1885

Display caption

Turner made drawings at Cliveden during a Thames tour probably in 1805 and may have exhibited this modestly-scaled view of Cliveden Reach at his gallery in 1807. On the slopes above the river stood the ruins of Cliveden House, a former home of the Dukes of Buckingham and associated with the poet James Thomson whose work Turner admired. Thomson was the author of a long poem ‘The Seasons’ as well as the ode ‘Rule Britannia’ which was first performed at Cliveden as part of his Masque of Alfred.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

66. [N01180] Cliveden on Thames Exh. 1807?

Canvas, 15 1/8 × 23 (38·5 × 58·5)

Coll. ...; Mrs E. Vaughan, bequeathed 1885 to the National Gallery; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1912.

Exh. ?Turner's gallery 1807; Tate Gallery 1931 (30).

Lit. Armstrong 1902, p. 220; Finberg 1961, pp. 134, 468 no. 107; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 26; Gage 1969, p. 38, pl. 41.

Benjamin West visited Turner's gallery on 5 May 1807 and told Farington that he ‘was disgusted with what he found there; views on the Thames, crude blotches, nothing could be more vicious’. The Thames views shown in Turner's gallery the following year are known (see Nos. 70–73) and the relative immaturity of Cliveden supports Finberg's ‘guess’ that it was among the works shown in 1807. However, the frontality of the composition and the still slightly conventional Titianesque sky suggest that it could be even earlier, nearer in date to the Petworth Windsor Castle from the Thames of c. 1805 (No. 149) and before the two pictures of Walton Bridges probably exhibited in 1806 and 1807 (Nos. 60 and 63). The nearest parallel is Hurley House on the Thames (No. 197, q.v.); c.f. also the still smaller panel of Newark Abbey (No. 201).

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984


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