In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 74 x 94 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 30

Catalogue entry

This sketch of Rokeby Park (or Rokeby Hall) is still Turner’s most detailed study of the house. He was in the vicinity to find a view to illustrate the Rokeby volume of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works, which Scott and his publisher Robert Cadell had decided should be Mortham Tower, a Peel (Pele) House which stands just opposite Rokeby across the Greta (see folio 10 verso; D25543).
This view of Rokeby is from the east, a view which clearly demonstrates Sir Thomas Robinson’s Palladian design of a series of square wings, each with a pyramidal roof. Although the house itself was not chosen for illustration by Scott, it still had great significance for the poet who had been a regular visitor and used the house as the setting for his 1812 epic poem of the same name. Part of Rokeby Park may be shown on folio 9 of this sketchbook (D25540), and there is a view of the Greta from the grounds on folio 11 (D25544).
The Rokeby sketch was made with the book inverted; with the sketchbook turned to the left is an outline of distant hill. Considering the Cumbrian views which precede and follow this page in the sketchbook, it is likely that these are hills or mountains in the Lake District, rather than around Rokeby in County Durham.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

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