Joseph Mallord William Turner

Grasmere, Looking South towards Rydal Water


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 274 × 370 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXV 87

Display caption

Turner made only a handful of sketches in this book on his way up to the Scottish border, reserving its much larger sheets for the Lake District. The enveloping scenery of the English Lakes offered Turner a new challenge, which, after a tentative start, he rose to, despite wet weather. Twelve of the landscapes are partly worked up in watercolour, and Turner later told Joseph Farington (one of the Royal Academicians he was anxious to impress) that they had been coloured from nature. These lakeland studies demonstrate a new breadth in his approach to landscape, which he successfully transferred to the oil paintings based on two of the sketches.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

The point from which Turner made this drawing (with the page turned horizontally) is close to that of the preceding study on folio 46 recto (D01035; Turner Bequest XXXV 33), though as Turner scholar David Hill observes he must have climbed to higher ground, since the hill falls away in the foreground some considerable distance towards the water. The boat on the lake may be the one shown pulled up on the shore in D01035. The artist now faces south-east, so that Rydal Mere is visible over the brow of the low hill separating the two lakes (Hill notes that trees on that hill now obscure the distant view of the water.) The smoke rising beyond the Mere is presumably that of Rydal village. The broad slopes of Heron Pike are visible to the left, and Loughrigg Fell rises at the right. The low cloud that prevented Turner recording Helvellyn in D01035 is more explicitly shown in the watercolour washes of this sheet; though the nearer view of Rydal Mere on the following leaf, folio 48 recto (D01036; Turner Bequest XXXV 34), indicates that visibility had somewhat improved by the time he reached that spot.
Technical notes:
Formerly extracted from the shetckbook for display, the page is faded from exposure.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram; inscribed by Turner in pen and brown ink ‘Grasmere Lake’, ‘Rydal Water’ and ‘63’; and by A.J. Finberg in pencil ‘80’.

Andrew Wilton
August 2010

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