Joseph Mallord William Turner

Notes by Turner ‘Loreto to Recanati’, and two slight landscape sketches


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 183 x 110 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Turner rarely made extensive written notes during his travels, preferring instead to rely on sketching as the primary means of recording a journey. The inside front cover of the Ancona to Rome Sketchbook, however, contains an unusually long and evocative passage describing his general impressions of the landscape between the towns of Loreto and Recanati, in the Marche region of Italy. The inscription, which has been jotted down in pencil, reads as follows:
Loreto to Recanati | color of the Hill Wilson Claude the olives the light of these | when the Sun shone grey [?turn]ing the Ground redish green grey | now afar to Purple, the Sea quite Blue, under the Sun | a warm vapour from the Sun Blue relieving the Shadows | of the olive tree dark while the foliage Light or the whole | when in shadow a quiet Grey. Beautifull dark | Green yet warm. the middle Trees [?y]et Bluish in | parts. far distance the aqueduct redish, the | foreground Light grey [?no] shadow
Turner’s observations of the terrain just outside of Ancona focus primarily on colour and the appearance of the light. His appreciation of the qualities outlined here owed a great deal to his knowledge of the work of Claude Lorrain (circa 1600–1682) and Richard Wilson (1714–1782) and it is clear that the hills, olive groves and views of the Adriatic sea he experienced in this part of the world, fulfilled many of his expectations regarding archetypal Italianate landscape. In particular, he was most keen to find evidence of the Claudian ideal within the passing countryside. On a sketch of the nearby town of Osimo within this same sketchbook he triumphantly noted ‘The first bit of Claude’, celebrating the moment when he first spotted a vista which resonated with the work of the French Old Master, see folio 6 (D14663).
Beneath the inscription, Turner has sketched two rough landscapes which due to their uncertain lines were almost certainly drawn from a moving carriage. The views are identifiable only from the accompanying inscribed place names, ‘Osimo’ and ‘Macerata’.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

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