Joseph Mallord William Turner

Newall Old Hall, Otley, near Farnley

c.1808

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 580 × 715 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17125
Turner Bequest CXCV 154

Catalogue entry

Made in white chalk only, this loose outline establishes the general form of the buildings in the scene brought much nearer to completion with gouache and watercolour on similar brown paper in Newall Old Hall, Otley, near Farnley Hall, perhaps of about 1808 (Tate D12114; Turner Bequest CLIV P). In his catalogue entry for the latter, David Hill discusses its possible dating in relation to comparable views of the mid 1810s, and explores the history of the seventeenth-century building, which no longer exists.
Albeit loosely drawn, the scale of the actual buildings on this considerably larger sheet (580 x 715 mm) matches that in the gouache, which was quite carefully painted within a notional rectangle, not masked at the edges, and neatly trimmed to 439 x 542 mm, allowing a few millimetres of bare brown paper all round. Hill’s entry describes it as ‘possibly one of Turner’s earlier experiments in painting in gouache on coloured paper, and certainly one of his largest attempts in this medium’, with ‘indications of an unusually careful approach to the subject, the main outline of the building being first ruled in pencil’.
The existence of this previously unidentified, slight rehearsal of the subject in chalk is further evidence of the care Turner took in developing it, particularly in establishing the perspective of the projecting wing at the right. At this time the artist was beginning to plan for his role as the Royal Academy’s Professor of Perspective, using lecture diagrams which sometimes represent buildings in three-dimensional outline form (for example Tate D17031; Turner Bequest CXCV 61). Indeed, not recognising the specific subject, Finberg placed this sheet among the ‘Perspective Diagrams’,1 most of which were used in the Academy talks; see the ‘Perspective Lectures c.1809–28’ section of this catalogue.
1
See Finberg 1909, I, pp.579–96, CXCV 1–179.
Technical notes:
There are small tears and losses all around the edges of this large sheet of soft, somewhat vulnerable paper. Yellowish spotting across its surface may indicate exposure to damp or mound in the past.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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