Joseph Mallord William Turner

Gibside from the South; with Studies of the House, Chapel, Orangery and Column of British Liberty


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 232 × 328 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

This drawing is listed by Finberg as page ‘3’, which would normally correspond to the recto of a leaf; however, his entry is bracketed with page ‘4’ and clearly refers to the double-page composition running across from here to folio 7 recto opposite (D12265; CLVI 4).1 The present page was initially stamped ‘CLVI 3’ but the number was erased (although the imprint is still faintly visible), and applied to the recto (D12264) instead. Further confusion arises from Finberg’s not listing the sketch of Streatlam Castle on the recto (D12264).
The main double-page view is the basis of Turner’s watercolour of the Gibside estate from the south (Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle),2 engraved in 1819 as Gibside, Co. of Durham, for Surtees’s History of Durham (see the introduction to the tour).
Michael Rudd has identified the viewpoint as Sandy Path Lane below Bryan’s Leap, north of Burnopfield, looking north and north-east, and notes that the foreground was drawn ‘from about 250 metres lower’, where the stone steps lightly indicated at the bottom right of this page survive ‘hidden by vegetation’.3 Turner’s note above the steps of a ‘Child carrying water’ came to partial fruition in the watercolour, where a pseudo-classical woman carrying an urn on her head is seen from the back descending at that point, possibly echoing the statue on Gibside’s Column of British Liberty4 (discussed below). Rudd notes that Samuel Rawle added a small girl in a short contemporary cape and bonnet in the engraving, to accompany the woman.5
Gibside’s Neo-Classical chapel is shown towards the bottom right of this part of the view, aligned with its portico facing away to the north-east, towards the column about a mile away (on the opposite page) up the Long Walk, since flanked by an avenue of trees; the house (also on the opposite page) is a little to the north of this axis, nearer the column than the chapel; and between the chapel and the house, also north of the main axis, is the orangery, not now readily made out in the tightly bound gutter between the two halves of the sketch.
See A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.447.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.364 no.557.
Rudd, ‘Retracing Turner’s Sketching Tours’, 2006, p.44; see also Rudd, ‘Gibside – from Sketch to Engraving’, 2006, p.8.
Rudd, ‘Retracing Turner’s Sketching Tours’, 2006,, p.44, and Rudd, ‘Gibside – from Sketch to Engraving’, 2006, p.8; for the composition of the watercolour see also Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, p.100.
Rudd, ‘Retracing Turner’s Sketching Tours’, 2006, p.45; see also pls.36 (the engraving) and 45 (detail of the copper engraving plate), and Rudd, ‘Gibside – from Sketch to Engraving’, p.8.
Rudd, ‘Retracing Turner’s Sketching Tours’, 2006, p.44, and Rudd, ‘Gibside – from Sketch to Engraving’, p.7.

Matthew Imms
February 2010

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