Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fonthill: Woods by a Lake, with a Fallen Tree


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 327 × 433 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLVII 48

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the page turned horizontally, this is one of a series of studies of trees and bushes, apparently made in the grounds of Fonthill while Turner was there in 1799, preparing for his set of views of the house, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 (private collection; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester).1 Some occur in the Swans sketchbook (Tate D01681–D01682, D01691–D01694; Turner Bequest XLII 6–7, 16–17, 18–19); others are in the present book (D02191, D02192 D02197; Turner Bequest XLVII 14, 15, 20).
The motif of the arched trunk of a fallen tree seems to have appealed to Turner, and stimulated him to romantic and dramatic invention: he presumably borrowed it from this drawing for a feature in the small oil sketch known as Landscape with Lake and Fallen Tree (Tate N03557),2 which contains a supine nude figure that links it with The Fifth Plague of Egypt (Indianapolis Museum of Art),3 also shown at the Academy in 1800.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.338 nos.335–339, reproduced, and pl.53.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.31 no.39, pl.35.
Ibid., pp.10–12 no.13, pl.10 (colour).
Technical notes:
The mottled texture of the brown pigment in some areas of the drawing may have been achieved by mixing the colour with gum arabic. For a proposed sequence for the leaves of the disbound Fonthill sketchbook, with this page as folio 9, see the Introduction.

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop