Joseph Mallord William Turner

Gates: Either at Farnley or Novar, or a Design


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 136 × 188 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 329

Catalogue entry

Two suggestions have been made for the location of these two sketches, which depict gates with a porch or lodge house and what may be a drawbridge or aerial plan of a gate. Finberg tentatively suggested that the sketch may have been made at Farnley Hall, the home of Turner’s great friend Walter Fawkes.1 There is certainly a similarity between the sketch at the top of the page and a watercolour by Turner of the East Lodge at Farnley, Gate and Lodges, Farnley circa 1818 (private collection).2 This is known as ‘Turner’s Lodge’ as it was apparently designed by the artist. This raises the possibility that, rather than a sketch of a gate, this is a design for one. Considering that Turner stopped visiting Farnley after the death of Fawkes in 1825, and Finberg’s dating of the sketch to 1830–41, it is likely that if it is a design, it was not for the Lodge at Farnley but was perhaps based on it.
The bottom sketch may also have a Farnley connection. David Wallace-Hadrill has doubted Finberg’s idea that this sketch shows a drawbridge, suggesting instead that it may be an aerial view of or design for gates.3 Such a design, with two curved walls between the lodges and the gate posts, recalls the West Lodge of Farnley Hall, also painted by the artist: The West Lodge, Farnley circa 1818 (private collection).4 Wallace-Hadrill, however, has suggested that the sketch may belong to a group of loose-leaf sketches made at Novar House, Evanton (see Sheets Associated with the 1831 Tour of Scotland Group Introduction). The top sketch may therefore show the older set of two gates to the south of the Novar estate, with the bottom sketch being a proposed design for their rebuilding.5
The large black watercolour or ink mark at the right of the page may suggest that Turner referred to the drawing while painting, although it could equally have occurred by accident.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1138.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.368 no.589.
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner at Novar House, Evanton’ [handwritten draft for the essay of the same name in Turner Society News, no.68, December 1994, pp.14–15], [circa 1994], Tate catalogue files.
Wilton 1979, p.368 no.588.
Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan [circa 1994].

Thomas Ardill
May 2010

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