Joseph Mallord William Turner

Keswick Lake, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 245 × 305 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 181

Catalogue entry

This vignette, Keswick Lake, was engraved by Edward Goodall and published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, illustrating Part II of a long poem entitled ‘The Pleasures of Memory’.1 The image complements Rogers’s ode to the sublime beauty of the Lake District:
Once, and domestic annals tell the time,
(Preserved in Cumbria’s rude, romantic clime)
When Nature smiled, and o’er the landscape threw
Her richest fragrance, and her brightest hue,
The rocky pass half-hung with shaggy wood,
And the cleft oak flung boldly o’er the flood;
Ere the rapt youth, recoiling from the roar,
Gazed on the tumbling tide of the dread Lodore;
And thro’ the rifted cliffs, that scaled the sky,
Derwent’s clear mirror charmed his dazzled eye.
Each osier isle, inverted on the wave,
Thro’ morn’s grey mist its melting colours gave;
And, o’er the cygnet’s haunt, the mantling grove
(Poems, pp.35–7)
Turner highlighted many of these lines with pencil in the margins of his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (see Tate; Turner Bequest CCCLVI pp.42–3). His own rendering of the scene draws closely upon Rogers’s vision, described by Adele Holcomb as ‘Gilpinesque’.2 The ‘rapt youth’, appears in the foreground accompanied by a small dog, and like the viewer gazes upon the magnificent Keswick Lake, also known as Derwentwater. The ‘tumbling tide’ of the Lodore Falls, a well-known feature of the lake, occupies the entire left side of the image. Turner has effectively depicted the mass of water by leaving it as untouched white paper. The waterfall figures even more centrally in Turner’s preliminary study for Keswick Lake (see Tate D27608; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 91). In developing these compositions, Turner may have referred to his Tweed and Lakes sketchbook which he used during his 1797 tour of the Lake District (see for example Tate D01021, D01084, D01087; Turner Bequest XXXV 19, 82, 85). He later composed another watercolour of the view toward Lodore Falls, Keswick Lake, (Derwentwater) circa 1835, for the engraved topographical series Picturesque Views in England and Wales (British Museum).3
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.36; W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.378. There are no impressions of this engraving in the collection.
Holcomb 1966, pp.85–6.
Wilton 1979, no.871.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry


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