Joseph Mallord William Turner

Stonehenge from the Amesbury Road


Not on display
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 x 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 213

Catalogue entry

The view is from the east, where the Warminster and Wincanton roads fork north and south of Stonehenge, indicated by the wavy diagonal lines rising right and left respectively from the vertical stroke below the monument, which shows the position of a signpost at the junction. The Heel Stone is on the horizon to the right of the main circle.
Turner’s sketch is the basis of a watercolour which has been dated to circa 1811–12 or 13 (private collection), showing the stones silhouetted against a sunset with dark clouds streaking the bright sky;1 the alignment of crossroads, stones and sun indicates a summer sunset just within the north-west quadrant. Thin clouds are noted in the present sketch, and Turner may have witnessed the scene towards or at dusk towards the end of his summer West Country tour; the sun appears to be almost setting in two more detailed drawings made on the same occasion in the Stonehenge sketchbook (Tate D41383, D41385; Turner Bequest CXXV b 10, 12). It has been suggested that the watercolour was made on a sheet of the same paper.2
There are three further sketches of the site in the current book, on folios 214 verso and 215 recto and verso (D08749–D08751; CXXIII 211a, 212, 212a); in the first of these a low sun also appears to be indicated. For further drawings and related works see the introduction to the Stonehenge sketchbook.
By coincidence, the view is the same as that recorded by John Constable in July 1820, in one of two drawings made at Stonehenge (private collection).3 David Lucas’s mezzotint print, published after Constable’s death, appears to have been taken from a lost watercolour or painting (see the entry for Tate’s impression, T04100); it shows a rather Turnerian juxtaposition of setting sun and crescent moon.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Not in Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979; for details and dating see Thos Agnew & Sons, exhibition catalogue, 1988, p.[18]; see also C[harles] Lewis Hind, Turner’s Golden Visions, London and Edinburgh 1910, pl.VIII (colour) and Ian Warrell (ed.), Franklin Kelly and others, J.M.W. Turner, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington 2007, p.82 no.47, reproduced (colour).
Warrell in Warrell (ed.) 2007, p.82.
Graham Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, New Haven and London 1984, p.50 no.20.18, pl.145; see also ‘smaller repetition’, p.50 no.20.19, pl.146.

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