Joseph Mallord William Turner

Mortham Tower


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 6 a

Catalogue entry

The main sketch on this page is of Mortham Tower near Rokeby, seen rising above the trees. There is a more detailed view of the tower house on folio 10 (D25542), and Turner included the tower house in his illustration of Junction of the Greta and the Tees circa 1832 (watercolour, whereabouts unknown) for Scott’s Poetical Works.1 Beneath the sketch of the tower on the present page is a rough sketch of an architectural feature that may belong to Mortham Tower or nearby Rokeby Park. It is interesting to note that Turner had made an almost identical visual note of this feature when he last visited Mortham Tower in 1816 (Tate D11212; Turner Bequest CXLV 105a).
At the top left of the page is a small boxed-off sketch of what may be a rooftop seen between trees. It is not clear to what the series of numbers inscribed on the page refers, though Turner sometimes used numbers as a code to indicate certain colours or tones, and often notes repeated features with a number.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.429 no.1086.

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