This atmospheric colour study is directly comparable to a detailed, annotated pencil drawing made in about 1816 in the Large Farnley sketchbook (Tate D09023; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 7); as discussed in the technical notes below, the present sheet was perhaps originally the preceding page.
In his entry for D09023, David Hill identifies the elemental scene as Hall Beck Gill, looking west, and notes it as ‘the first of a sequence of four apparently recording an expedition from Walter Fawkes’s seat, Farnley Hall, culminating on [Tate D09026; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 10] with a shooting party in a marquee on the moors.’ He notes that the view is ‘west towards the head of Hall Beck Gill roughly along the line of the present road from Harrogate to Bolton Abbey, with the prominent crag of the Dovestone to the right’, some five miles north-west of Farnley Hall, on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As Hill explains, the valley had previously been confused by Turner scholars with nearby Kex Gill, which led the present author to suggest the adjacent Beamsley Beacon as the likely subject of the present work1 prior to Hill’s entries in the present catalogue. For numerous other drawings of what seems to have been a regular haunt during Turner’s visits to Fawkes at Farnley (see Hill’s section Introduction), see under D09023.
The pony and figures evident on the foreground slopes of the Large Farnley drawing are not transferred here. The sheet is very similar in size to watercolours of shooting parties in the neighbourhood of Farnley which Turner painted for Fawkes’s relative, the amateur artist and collector Sir William Pilkington (1775–1850):2 Woodcock Shooting on Otley Chevin, dated 1813, and Grouse Shooting on Beamsley Beacon, perhaps of 1816 (Wallace Collection, London).3 Another finished watercolour on the same scale, Shooting Party on the Moors, 12th August (private collection),4 relating to Tate D09026 (Turner Bequest CXXVIII 10, as mentioned above) was made for Fawkes around this time, so the present study perhaps represented the potential for a companion piece for either patron.
See Imms 2008, p.82, and Imms 2009, p.76.
See Terry Riggs, ‘Pilkington, Sir William’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.229.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.361 nos.534 and 535 respectively, reproduced.
Ibid., pp.370–71 no.610, reproduced.