attributed to Joseph Mallord William Turner

Landscape with Windmill and Rainbow (partly after Gainsborough)


Not on display

Attributed to Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 705 × 902 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

45.[N05489] Landscape with Windmill and Rainbow c. 1795–1800

Canvas, 27 3/4 × 35 1/2 (70·5 × 90)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (?); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Lit. Davies 1946, pp. 168–9; Gage 1980, p. 290; John Hayes, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, 1982, ii, p. 341, the Gainsborough repr. no. 15.

Martin Davies, who accepted this picture as being by Turner with reservations, added that, although there was now no chalk number on the back to link it with the Schedule of the Turner Bequest, ‘there can be little doubt that this picture forms part of the Turner Bequest, and was accepted by Eastlake and Knight [who drew up the Schedule] as being an early work’. The central part of the picture is based on a Gainsborough, now lost but known from an engraving and an old sale catalogue reproduction (Ellis Waterhouse, Gainsborough 1958, p. 108 no. 846, as repr. Robert Cluett sale, New York, 26 May 1932, lot 90); the Gainsborough lacks the windmill and the rainbow. It looks therefore as if Turner may have begun this work as a straight copy but developed the composition in accord with his own taste: the rainbow in particular would seem to reflect his especial interests. That Turner was interested in Gainsborough's work is shown by his copy of the older artist's etching of a ‘Wooded Landscape with Church, Cow and Figure’ in the sketchbook now at Princeton University Art Museum inscribed ‘The Sketch Book—/of J.M.W. Turner—London/as it was left at—/Mr. Narraways— Bristol/about 1790 or 1791 —’ (exh. R.A. 1974–5 (B8); see John Hayes, Gainsborough as Printmaker 1971, p. 35, the Gainsborough repr. pl. 30, the Turner pl. 32); here the original composition is again modified, though less drastically. In addition, Turner's friend the Rev. Henry Trimmer owned A Landscape, with Cattle, in the manner of Gainsborough attributed to Turner and said to have been given to him by the artist (see Gage loc. cit.). (The compiler is indebted to Dr John Hayes for advice on this entry.)

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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