Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Malham Cove

1816

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 179 × 254 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09852
Turner Bequest CXXXIV 54 a

Catalogue entry

As now bound, this subject is inverted relative to sketchbook’s foliation. The slightness of the treatment lends it a slightly naïve, almost childlike quality; it appears to show a cliff with a waterfall, dwarfing a house at its foot, while a band of rough hatching may indicate a stormy sky. It may be a recollection of Malham Cove, the limestone cliff above the village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales, over which water does not normally flow, but Turner had visited it in July 1816 in the exceptionally wet conditions of that ‘year without a summer’ on his extensive Yorkshire and Lancashire tour during July and August.1
There are no other sketches in this book, apparently in use elsewhere in Yorkshire in the late summer of 1816 (see the Introduction), to suggest that he would have had it with him when he visited Malham. He had made several sketches in the neighbourhood in July, in the Yorkshire 2 sketchbook; see in particular Tate D11328 (Turner Bequest CXLV 165a). A drawing of 1808 in the Tabley No.1 sketchbook (Tate D06839; Turner Bequest CIII 10) had been the basis of a watercolour a year or two later (British Museum, London),2 again depicting rainy conditions.
1
See David Hill, In Turner’s Footsteps: Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England, London 1984, pp.39–42.
2
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.360 no.533, reproduced.
Technical notes:
About 85 mm is missing from the outer part of the original leaf; the loss has been made good with slightly darker paper.

Matthew Imms
July 2014

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