Joseph Mallord William Turner

Landscape, with Somer Hill in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 258 × 370 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXVI 19

Catalogue entry

Much more carefully finished than the other drawings in this sketchbook, this is a view of Somer Hill, just south-east of Tonbridge in Kent. With the view of Tonbridge Castle on folio 8 (D05361) it is evidence of Turner’s likely use of the sketchbook in 1810, as that year he probably visited the estate on his way to Rosehill Park in Sussex to fulfil a commission for John Fuller. In Turner’s Vale of Heathfield sketchbook, first used in 1810, there is a double-spread study of Somer Hill (Tate D10210–D10211; Turner Bequest CXXXVII 3a–4) which served as the basis of the picture, Somer-Hill, near Tunbridge, the Seat of W.F. Woodgate, Esq. (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh),1 which Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811. A hay cart appears in the field in the foreground of the present sketch, indicating a visit at harvest time. See Introduction to this sketchbook for the suggestion that, anticipating this, Turner may have taken it with him to Kent and Sussex in 1810 to collect more material for his harvest pictures, Harvest Home and Cassiobury Park; Reaping (Tate N00562, N04663).2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.82–3 no.116 (pl.121).
Ibid., p.128 nos.209, 209a (pls.208, 209).
Blank, save for inscriptions by John Ruskin in red ink ‘275’ and ‘Book No 161, Invent.’

David Blayney Brown
December 2009

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