Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures on Richmond Hill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 x 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 89

Catalogue entry

Turner had a long association with the Richmond upon Thames area,1 and his most ambitious version of the view west up the river from Richmond Hill was the large painting England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday, exhibited in 1819 (Tate N00502);2 he also built a house for himself at Twickenham, below the hill on the opposite bank, although this had been sold in 1826 (see the ‘Sandycombe Lodge c.1808–12’ section of the present catalogue). He produced two watercolours of this habitual view: the early 1820s Richmond Hill (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight),3 engraved in 1826 for the Literary Souvenir (Tate impression: T06132); and Richmond Terrace, Surrey (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),4 engraved in 1838 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04611, T06128).
The viewpoint and prospect in the present sketch, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, are both slightly uncertain, as the Thames itself is not shown; it is presumably out of sight to the right, the view being south-west over Petersham. The leisurely figures, a common motif in Turner’s views, and the buildings on the right, are continued a little way onto folio 89 verso opposite (D22316; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 88a). The subject is confirmed by the related view across the verso (D22318) and folio 91 recto (D22319; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 90).
The date of these Richmond views is unconfirmed; for convenience they have been assigned here to 1831, the likely year of the Midlands subjects on most of the other pages in this sketchbook, but they could have been made some time before, given the 1820 watermarks on other pages; both share pages with small Midlands sketches which seem to have been fitted in to utilise blank space, suggesting that the Richmond subjects were already present.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, pp.53–62 and in general.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.106–7 no.140, Pl.145 (colour).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.359 no.518, pl.135.
Ibid., p.403 no.879, reproduced.

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