Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fonthill: A Shelter in the Grounds, with a Flock of Sheep and Shepherd

1799

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 334 x 467 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D02224
Turner Bequest XLVII 47

Display caption

Wealthy landowners often commissioned artists to make paintings of their estates and houses. Few were as extraordinary as William Beckford's outrageous residence, Fonthill Abbey. Beckford invited Turner to stay at Fonthill, in Wiltshire, when the building was still under construction. Turner made many drawings and sketches of the neo-Gothic extravagance and its huge tower, which collapsed under its
own weight a few years later.

 

The focus of this watercolour is the rural scene in the foreground, but some idea
of the sheer scale of the abbey can be gauged from the silhouetted tower visible on the horizon.

 

Gallery label, September 2004

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