Joseph Mallord William Turner

Rochester, with a Bend of the River Medway

c.1821–2

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17303
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 58 a

Catalogue entry

As per Finberg’s identification, this and the facing page on folio 59 recto (D17304) are filled with an expansive drawing which describes Rochester and the River Medway in Kent in some detail.1 This is a topic Turner visits earlier in the sketchbook, initially on folio 6 verso (D17217). For a full list of additional instances of the theme both in the present sketchbook and elsewhere, see the entry for that page.
In the present half of the composition, Turner is concerned with the busy waterway as it snakes off into the distance towards Chatham and Brompton, and the various domestic dwellings and markers of a riverside community on the far left of the sketch, facing Rochester. In the foreground Turner’s pencil has made sweeping, gestural marks to denote the undulating rural topography. This contrasts effectively with the considered detail with which the houses and myriad of masts sticking up from the river are composed. On the far left, towards the top, the All Saints Church at Frindsbury is distinguished by its tapered steeple. For another sketch of this church, see the Medway sketchbook (Tate D17390; Turner Bequest CXCIX 16).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.605.

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