Technique and condition
This composition has been drawn in pencil and ink on white wove paper. Although the sheet is backed, in raking light the traces of the watermark are still visible in the bottom right-hand corner. The watermark reads ‘J Whatman’ and the sheet was made by J. Whatman the younger at Turkey Mill in Maidstone, Kent. It was produced using a double-faced mould. The image is on the wireside of the sheet.1
The background was drawn in pencil and the details of the house have been ruled in carefully with ink. The facing blocks of the house have been left uncoloured, whereas all other areas of the image have been painted. The windows are painted in a rather formulaic manner with an even black wash applied with ruled outlines, and they do not reflect the landscape as they would have in reality. The pink/red colour of the building is painted with a thin, even wash of vermilion, filled in right up to the inked details.
The background foliage follows the drawing exactly, and it was created using coarse flicks of paint, sometimes manipulated by the artist’s fingers. The many shades of green used in this picture are made from mixtures of a blue and a yellow pigment. The foreground foliage and the trees behind the house have a very bluish appearance which suggests fading of a yellow organic pigment from the mixture, and the most yellow-green, sunlit leaves of the large foreground tree show the effect to a lesser degree: there was more yellow in the mixture than elsewhere. Indian yellow was used, a pigment known to fade when it is exposed to light, and possibly other yellow organic yellows were also used, since the green shades are made from several different mixtures. The darker leaves are probably not altered, since their duller green tones were mixed from brown/yellow earth colours and blue.
The washed border round the work is a conventional means of presenting a finished watercolour, and it was made using ruled lines filled neatly with washes of pure earth colours or more likely mixtures of colours, to repeat the tonality of the main image, without dominating it.
Peter Bower, ‘Turner’s Papers: A Catalogue of the Papers Used by J.M.W. Turner in the Turner Bequest, Clore Gallery, Tate Gallery. Part 1: 1787–1802: TB I–TB LXX’, 1994, Tate catalogue files, unpaginated.
This is one of two finished views of Radley Hall that have survived in the Turner Bequest; see also Tate D00048 (Turner Bequest III C). They are based on notes made in the Oxford sketchbook (Tate D00028, D00043; Turner Bequest II 14, 25a); the latter page has notes of the fenestration. As Finberg points out, this drawing demonstrates ‘the thoroughness’ of Thomas Malton’s teaching while Turner was with him.1
Turner’s washline border has been cut down at the top and bottom.
Finberg 1961, p.19.
Turner’s mount laid down on a modern sheet, stamped with Turner Bequest monogram.