Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for a Classical Picture, Possibly Related to ‘Crossing the Brook’

c.1812–13

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Dimensions
Support: 178 × 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09129
Turner Bequest CXXIX 52

Catalogue entry

This is the last of a series of twenty-five studies, beginning on folio 20 verso of the sketchbook (D09082), of variations on the theme of an upright classical composition. Finberg suggested a possible relationship of the present sketch to the painting of Crossing the Brook (Tate N00497)1 exhibited in 1815. The general composition, albeit here with much more architectural elaboration, is very close, and at least three other sketches in the series, folios 36, 43 and 46 (Tate D09110, D09118, D09122) are also close to the painting. The painting is said to have been informed by Turner’s visit to Devon and Cornwall in 1813,2 and it seems likely that the designs rehearsed in the present sketchbook provided the mould into which his naturalistic observations were poured.
1
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.93–4 no.130, pl.123.
2
Butlin and Joll, ibid., cite the testimony of Charles Lock Eastlake that the bridge in the middle distance of the painting is Calstock Bridge on the River Tamar. But there was no bridge at Calstock until the railway viaduct was built in 1908. The first bridge on the Tamar is at Gunnislake, rather further upstream. No sketches have yet been identified to provide a convincing topographical basis for the painting.
Verso:
Blank

David Hill
October 2008

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