Joseph Mallord William Turner

Harvest Dinner, Kingston Bank

exhibited 1809

Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 902 × 1210 mm
frame: 1365 × 1680 × 175 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

This picture of a river scene at harvest-time attracted little critical attention when it was exhibited in 1809. However, it was much admired by JS Cotman and David Cox, both of whom made swift pencil drawings of the painting while in the gallery.


The painting was derived from a sketch
in which Turner experimented with the composition. Turner made no claims for
it being a study from nature, but when
it was exhibited in his gallery in 1835
it was praised for its 'true' effect. 'It does not need the man stooping to wash his face, to convey an idea of the sultry heat
of a summer morn,' wrote the critic
at the Spectator


Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

90. [N00491] Harvest Dinner, Kingston Bank Exh. 1809

Canvas, 35 1/2 × 47 5/8 (90 × 121)
Signed ‘... MW Tur...’ bottom right

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (14, ‘Kingston Bank’ 4'0" × 3'0"'); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1919.

Exh. Turner's gallery 1809 (10); Turner's gallery 1810 (5, ‘Harvest Dinner’); Turner's gallery 1835; Tate Gallery 1931 (43); on loan to the National Museum of Wales 1964–85.

Engr. By Turner for the Liber Studiorum, R. 87, but not published (repr. Finberg 1924, p. 348; the preliminary pen and sepia drawing from the Vaughan Bequest, CXVIII-W, repr. loc. cit.).

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, p. 295; N. Neal Solly, Memoir of the Life of David Cox, 1863, pp. 28–9; Thornbury

1877, p. 431; Armstrong 1902, p. 224; Finberg 1924, p. 349; S.D. Kitson, Life of John Sell Cotman 1937, p. 129; Davies 1946, p. 185; H.F. Finberg 1951, pp. 384–5; Finberg 1961, pp. 471 no. 137, 512 no. 157e; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 24.

When it was shown in Turner's gallery in 1809 this picture was the subject of a furtive copy in pencil by Cotman. The same exhibition was presumably the occasion for David Cox's drawing from memory, done as part of a lesson given to Lady Arden. ‘No drawing paper could be found at the time, except the cover of a piece of music, but on this Cox made a small but charming and delicate drawing, very like the “Kingston Bank” in arrangement and colour ... the original painting by Turner is quiet in tone, and Cox's drawing is perhaps rather more sunny. The figures, especially that of a lad stooping down with his head close to the water to drink, are admirably given.’ The drawing, which later belonged to Cox's son, is unfortunately untraced. (See Solly, loc. cit.)

The picture does not seem to have attracted critical attention when it was exhibited in 1809. In 1835, however, this picture was one of ‘the few of Mr. Turner's splendid paintings that enrich the walls of his gallery’ where they were seen and described by the critic of the Spectator for 26 April 1835. After discussing Frosty Morning (No. 127 [N00492]) he goes on, ‘What a contrast does it present to this river-scene at harvest-time! It does not need the man stooping to wash his face, to convey an idea of the sultry heat of a summer morn. Nothing can be more simple that this composition; nor more broad, quiet, and true than its effect.’ For an oil sketch see No. 160 [N02696].

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984


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