Joseph Mallord William Turner

Leathley Church from above Lindley Mill on the River Washburn


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 192 × 230 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLV 18

Catalogue entry

Looking south from above Lindley Mill, along the River Washburn to Leathley Church with Caley Park and the eastern parts of Otley Chevin in the distance. Turner sketched at the same site about a mile north-east of Farnley Hall, from a viewpoint close by in about 1808 (Tate D12120; Turner Bequest TB CLIV V) and visited exactly the same spot as the present sketch in 1816 to make a large and detailed pencil sketch in the Large Farnley sketchbook (Tate D09055; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 39). The present sketch and that in the Large Farnley sketchbook are remarkably close, and it must be wondered why Turner re-sketched the material so exactly. Given the greater detail of the Large Farnley sketch it is perhaps also a little odd that the present sketch, and not the larger one, formed the basis of a watercolour, The Valley of Washburn and Leathley Church (private collection)1 painted for Walter Fawkes of Farnley Hall about 1818. The particular details of the watercolour, proportion and general composition, especially the more emphatic topography, are all closer to the present sketch, and splashes of watercolour on the sketch testify to it being close by when the watercolour was made. A sketch of about 1816–18 in The Aqueduct sketchbook (Tate D11980; Turner Bequest CLII 6) is possibly also from nearby.
It is possible that this leaf does not belong with the Kirkstall Lock group at all. The subtle emphasis of the topography seems more advanced than in the Large Farnley sketch, and appears to argue for a later date. The leaf itself also differs from the others. The vertical dimension is greater (192 mm as opposed to 186 mm) and in all of the others the torn edge is to the left. Here the bottom edge is irregular or torn, as if from a larger vertical sheet, whereas all the other leaves from the sketchbook are regularly trimmed. The verso is blank, and so was not numbered amongst the original (‘Sched 164...’) sequence (see notes to Tate D12241, D12244; Turner Bequest CLV 2, 4a). As the related watercolour belongs stylistically to a group painted about 1818 (see notes to the Farnley sketchbook, Tate D11995–D12098; D40715–D40718; Turner Bequest CLIII) it is possible that this sketch was made then. There are other leaves of similar dimensions with Farnley subjects (for example Tate D12099; Turner Bequest CLIV A), which appear to date from about 1816–18. This might go some way to offering a scenario to explain why Turner repeated the subject so closely. Perhaps Turner did not have the Large Farnley sketchbook with him at Farnley in 1818, but needed the subject at that time to add to the series of watercolours on which he was then working.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.372 no.627; Sotheby’s sale, 4 December 2008 lot 147.

David Hill
June 2009

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