Joseph Mallord William Turner

Petworth House from the Lake: Study for ‘Petworth, Sussex, the Seat of the Earl of Egremont: Dewy Morning’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 228 × 375 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CIX 4

Catalogue entry

This careful drawing of the west front of Petworth House from across the lake served as the basis of the picture painted for the Earl of Egremont and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810 (Tate T03880; displayed at Petworth House).1 The drawing closely anticipates the oil, with the difference that it shows the church of St Mary the Virgin, behind the house, with the pinnacles added after demolition of the old spire in 1800 whereas the picture, at least today, depicts a spire similar to the new one added by Sir Charles Barry in 1827; Turner painted this in later, to bring his picture up to date as well as to give some vertical relief to the horizontal mass of the house.2 Already in the drawing, Turner has decided on a view that does much to compensate for this, by showing elevated ground to the left, giving prominence to the lake and placing two tall-masted boats on its waters. The larger of these is surely too big for Petworth’s lake but, for its compositional emphasis, might have been borrowed from Tabley, Cheshire, the Seat of Sir J.F. Leicester, Bart.: Calm Morning (Tate T03878; displayed at Petworth House)3 which appeared at the Academy in 1809 and inspired Egremont’s commission for the view of his own house; in the picture of Tabley, Turner had included yachts that Sir John Leicester kept on his own lake for boating parties. Wilkinson states that the small island in Petworth’s lake, left centre in the drawing, was omitted from the picture. In fact it is present but smaller.
For the other view of Petworth from this 1809 sketchbook, doubtless offered to the Earl as an alternative design for his picture, see D07516; Turner Bequest CIX 5.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.79–80 no.113 (pl.120).
Butlin, Luther and Warrell 1989, pp.130–2.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.70–1 no.99 (pl.107).
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Do’ [Ditto]

David Blayney Brown
June 2009

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