Joseph Mallord William Turner

Landscape with Water


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1219 × 1822 mm
frame: 1532 × 2142 × 107 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

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With its combination of natural scenery and classical architecture, the town of Tivoli was an obvious choice of subject which fascinated Turner for decades. This unfinished canvas appears to be based upon a watercolour painting of Tivoli, exhibited at the Royal Academy over twenty years earlier. The foreground is dominated by the River Aniene, calm and still where it pools beneath the Temple of the Sibyl, before plunging over the brink of a great waterfall. The intense concentration of white in the centre of the composition represents the light of the sun reflected on the surface of the water.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

531. [N05513] Landscape with Water c. 1840–5


Canvas, 48 × 71 1/2 (122 × 182)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (262, ‘I (Lake Scene)’ 6'0" × 4'0 1/4"; identified 1946 by chalk number on back); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Exh. New York 1966 (21, repr. p. 11); Edinburgh 1968 (21); Prague, Bratislava (148) and Vienna (58) 1969; Tokyo and Kyoto 1970–71 (44, repr. in colour); Dresden (14) and Berlin (23) 1972; Lisbon 1973 (16, repr.); Mexico City (4) and Caracas (3) 1979; Light, Arts Council, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, and Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, only, October– December 1983 (41, repr. in colour).

Lit. Davies 1946, pp. 163–4, 190; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 50, colour pl. xix; Gowing 1966, p. 45, repr. p. 11; Herrmann 1978, p. 773; Butlin 1981, p. 45.

Dated c. 1840–5 by Gowing and even later, perhaps, by Herrmann. The canvas bears a form of Thomas Brown stamp that seems only to have come into use in about 1839, and in style and handling the painting is, though larger, comparable to the unfinished oils of Liber Studiorum subjects, Nos. 509–19. The composition is however similar to many of Turner's Italianate landscapes of the 1830s or even earlier (c.f. among watercolours the sketch for the large watercolour Landscape: Composition of Tivoli, exhibited at the R.A. in 1818 (474); repr. Wilton 1979, pls. 169 and 165 (in colour) respectively).

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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