Joseph Mallord William Turner

‘Low Wood’, Windermere from Ambleside


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 74 × 94 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 24 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s inscription, ‘Low Wood’, tells us that this is a view of Windermere from Ambleside. While ‘Low Wood’ does not feature on the Ordnance Survey map, there is a hotel by that name on this spot, and the topography of this very slight sketch fits the view from Ambleside. In the left foreground a sweeping bay is created by Holme Crag with the foot of Wansfell Pike above it, and across the foreshortened lake is High Wray. Turner seems to have compressed the composition horizontally to bring the banks of the lake closer together.
If this is correct and Turner did go to Ambleside, then it suggests that he may have reached it from Kendal on his way north to Keswick, rather than heading straight to Penrith and making this the basis of his explorations in the lakes as Gerald Finley has suggested.1

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Gerald Finley, Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott, London 1980, p.91.

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