Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cliveden on Thames

?exhibited 1807

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’s deliberately imprecise, atmospheric style was not universally admired. When fellow artist Benjamin West visited his studio in 1807, it is possible he saw this picture. The older artist reported being ‘disgusted with what he found there; views on the Thames, crude blotches, nothing could be more vicious’.

Gallery label, July 2020

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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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