Joseph Mallord William Turner

Mountainous Scenery, Probably near Castleton in the Peak District; a Town with Spires and Towers, Possibly Manchester, ?with a Steam Train


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 84

Catalogue entry

There are three views here: two of craggy, mountainous scenery, made one above the other on the right with the sketchbook inverted relative to the foliation; and a smaller sketch of distant spires and towers occupying the outer third of the page, made with the book turned vertically. Given the presence of a view of Castleton in the Peak District on folio 84 verso opposite (D22306; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 83a) and other nearby pages, the hills shown here may be nearby. For other views in the area, see under folio 1 verso (D22152).
The urban view is more elusive. It may be a view of Manchester, of which there are other small views in this sketchbook; see under folio 12 recto (D22171). Thomas Ardill has suggested that Turner rode on the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway as he approached Scotland in 1831; see his Introduction to the ‘Scotland 1831’ section of the present catalogue.1 It is tempting to read Turner’s inscription as ‘Rail Way’ and the converging lines as tracks. There is certainly smoke issuing from a chimney or smoke-stack in the middle distance, bringing to mind the head-on view of the engine in Turner’s 1844 painting Rain, Steam and Speed – the Great Western Railway (National Gallery, London);2 but the forms might just as well indicate roads or walls and a factory. For another locomotive-like form, see folio 25 recto (D22194). Other slight sketches, on folios 16 recto and 58 verso (D22179, D22258), might possibly show the railway.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

See also Thomas Ardill, ‘Turner in Liverpool, 1831’, Turner Society News, no.112, August 2009, p.13.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.256–7 no.409, pl.414 (colour).

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