Joseph Mallord William Turner

Landscape with Lake and Fallen Tree


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 391 × 606 mm
frame: 535 × 750 × 70 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

This is a 'lay-in' (or ground work) for a small picture of a historical landscape, left unfinished by Turner. He experimented with a brighter palette as he set out the foundations of the composition, working over a pale ground. The design may echo Richard Wilson's famous picture The Destruction of Niobe's Children; the dark blur at upper left approximates to Wilson's cloud bearing Apollo and Diana. In the early 1790s Wilson's picture belonged to the Keeper of the Royal Academy, Joseph Wilton. It was also reproduced in a print by William Woollett, which Turner greatly admired.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

39. [N03557] Landscape with Lake and Fallen Tree c. 1800?

Canvas, 15 3/8 × 23 7/8 (39 × 60·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (? 166, I unspecified 2'1" × 1'4"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1919.

Exh. New Zealand (3), Australia and South Africa (54) 1936–9; Paris 1953 (70, repr. pl. 35).

Formerly called ‘Lake Scene: A Fallen Tree’. Apparently left unfinished and also rather worn, this picture is probably rather earlier than it at first appears. The composition and particularly the reclining figure with raised leg still reflect the influence of Wilson, and the picture lacks the classicising tendencies of the works following Turner's studies in the Louvre in 1802.

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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