Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sion Ferry House, Isleworth: Sunset


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 260 × 369 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XCV 48

Catalogue entry

This is a right-hand page from the sketchbook. With its surrounding garden wall and Gothic summer-house, the identification of this house as Turner’s own Sion (or Syon) Ferry House seems certain and is confirmed by contemporary topography.1 The view, looking west, shows a two-storey double-fronted house near the mouth of The Duke of Northumberland’s River with its own retaining wall. The river was now silted up, its water diverted for fountains in Syon Park. The wall on the far left must belong to the churchyard of All Saints’, Isleworth. This is an evening view, as if recording Turner’s return home at the end of the day, perhaps from a trip on the river. Hill notes its ‘intimate and personal’ feeling. A figure on the ferry causeway gestures a greeting and smoke from the chimney, blowing in a fresh breeze, suggests preparations for Turner’s supper. Turner used the summer-house as an impromptu studio and a probable upstream view, from it with the same prominent tree seen from the other side, and including the ferry, was also made in this sketchbook (Tate D05916; Turner Bequest XCV 12).
Turner’s fingerprint is visible in the paint in the wall left of centre.
Hill 1993, pp.25–6.

David Blayney Brown
February 2009

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