Joseph Mallord William Turner

Duddon Sands, Cumbria


On loan

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum (Aarhus, Denmark): Turner Watercolours: Sun is God

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and chalk on paper
Support: 276 × 452 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 104

Catalogue entry

Forming the estuary of the River Duddon, Duddon Sands lie between Broughton- and Barrow-in-Furness, at the south-west corner of the Lake District. Turner had passed through Ulverston, a few miles to the west, in 1816,1 but there are no identified Duddon views from that tour; he had been in the area in 1809, and there are views of Millom Castle, above the western bank of the estuary, in the Petworth and Sandycombe and Yorkshire sketchbooks (Tate D07534, D07535, D08975, D08976, D08978, D08998 D09001; Turner Bequest CIX 22, 23, CXXVII 9, 9a, 11, 23a, 25a).
The latter sketchbook also includes what may be a view of the Lake District mountains from Duddon Sands (Tate D08969; Turner Bequest CXXVII 5), although the present view, with its silhouetted trees and vast mass of storm clouds can hardly be described as conventionally topographical. As part of Giichi Nakamura’s article discussing the appreciation of Turner in Japan, the present work was reproduced beside a gestural, free-form Landscape in the Style of Yu-Chein, dated to the second half of the fifteenth century.2
There are other colour studies of the shallow estuaries south of the Lake District: one possibly showing Lancaster Sands (Tate D25132; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 10); Cartmel Sands (Tate D25282; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 160); and a wide view of Morecame Bay (Tate D25473; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 350).
Without suggesting a date, Eric Shanes has proposed this work as an undeveloped subject for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales,3 which he worked on between about 1825 and 1838; the range date of circa 1825–32 adopted for recent exhibitions has been retained here. See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
See David Hill, In Turner’s Footsteps: Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England, London 1984, pp.80–1, 84–5.
Nakamura 1981, p.4.
Shanes 1997, pp.96, 105.
Technical notes:
Turner’s fingerprints are evident at the ragged edge of the clouds above the silhouetted trees on the left. Unusually, white chalk has been applied over the washes, apparently to suggest figures at the bottom centre, and as an irregular disk above the trees, perhaps indicating the sun through the watery cloud.1
See Wilton 1975, p.106.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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