Joseph Mallord William Turner

Distant Hills; the River Thames at Chiswick


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 160 × 100 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, at the top is a river view with the characteristic silhouette of a Thames barge. The first word of Turner’s inscription is unclear but the whole probably indicates the Bull’s Head public house, which still stands on the north bank just downstream of the modern Kew Railway Bridge. The reversed ‘C’ shape in the sky to the left of the mast seems to be the new moon at sunset. It is repeated in what seems to be an oddly disconnected reflection of the scene below. There is a view at nearby Isleworth on folios 41verso–42 recto (D17988–D17989).
At the bottom right relative to the drawing, and inverted in terms of the sketchbook’s foliation, is the Turner Bequest executors’ ink endorsement. The main inscription is all in the hand of Henry Scott Trimmer: ‘No 370 | 34 leaves of slight pencil sketch[es] | H S Trimmer. Below are the respective pencil initials, ‘JPK’ and ‘C.L.E.’, of John Prescott Knight and Charles Lock Eastlake. The inscriptions overlap the faint continuation of a hilly landscape from folio 42 verso opposite (D40968). The ‘es’ of sketches was cut off when the book was recased, presumably as part of the British Museum restoration programme following the 1928 Tate flood.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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