Joseph Mallord William Turner

River Landscape with Distant Mountain


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 213 × 273 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXIII N

Catalogue entry

The view has been variously identified as Snowdon from Portmadoc (C.F. Bell) and Cader Idris from Barmouth (Finberg); the latter is more consistent with Turner’s known itineraries of 1792–3, but no other evidence exists that he travelled even as far north as Cader at this date. Technically, this is as sophisticated an exercise as the view of the Hot Wells, Bristol (Tate D00389; Turner Bequest XXIII O). The handling of atmospheric perspective, and of foliage against the sky, marks this as one of the subtlest of Turner’s watercolour studies to date. The partial erasure of the figures in a boat and on a jetty at the lower centre suggests that Turner was using the sheet to develop an idea for a finished watercolour.
Blank; paint smears; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram; inscribed (in a later hand) ‘17’.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

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