Joseph Mallord William Turner

Falls of Lodore: Study for ‘Keswick Lake’, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 169 × 237 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 91

Catalogue entry

This is a preliminary study for Keswick Lake, a vignette published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, illustrating Part II of a long poem entitled ‘The Pleasures of Memory’ (see Tate D27698; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 181). Turner’s design complements Rogers’s description of a young man gazing upon the Falls of Lodore, one of the best-known features of Derwentwater, also known as the Keswick Lake, in the Lake District:
Ere the rapt youth, recoiling from the roar,
Gazed on the tumbling tide of the dread Lodore;
And thro’ the rifted cliffs, that scaled the sky,
Derwent’s clear mirror charmed his dazzled eye.
(Poems, p.36)
The subject matter and composition of Turner’s two versions of Keswick Lake are closely related. Both show the waterfall on the left side of the composition, surrounded by blue mountains rising in the distance. Turner has effectively depicted the tumbling mass of water by leaving it as untouched white paper. In his final version of Keswick Lake, Turner added numerous details to the foreground, including small islands, figures and sailboats.
The style and medium of the sketch are typical of Turner’s preparatory studies for Rogers’s Poems. These works tend to be executed in pencil and light wash and are made on papers of similar type. Here, Turner has blocked out his subject with thin layers of blue and pink watercolour. The outlined sun (or moon) in the upper left corner of the image represents the only use of pencil in the composition.
Technical notes:
Watermark ‘Rus [...]’
Inscribed by an unknown hand in blue pencil ‘223’ centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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