Joseph Mallord William Turner

Scenes on the River Medway, Probably at Chatham


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 46 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned vertically, Turner describes four views on this page of the River Medway.1 The location is likely to be in the vicinity of Chatham, a suggestion offered on the basis of the hilltop fort evident in the topmost sketch, perhaps Fort Pitt.
The second drawing focuses again on architectural features of the topography. The bottom two sketches deviate from this theme, demonstrating Turner’s interest in vessels which populate the expanse of water between his position and the opposite bank of the Medway. The bottommost drawing includes at right a detailed and thorough record of a hulk. Consistent with many of Turner’s sketches of similar vessels in this book, the greatest pressure and detail is applied to the bow and stern, although here the hull is sharply elaborated too. Indeed, Gerald Wilkinson reproduces this page to support his comments on Turner’s technique in both this and the Folkestone sketchbook of about 1821–2 (Tate; Turner Bequest CXCVIII): ‘The pencil is hard and the detail remarkably thorough, even for him’.2
For a comprehensive list of studies in this sketchbook which describe Chatham, see the entry for folio 22 recto (D17402).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.609.
Wilkinson 1975, p.22.

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