This is a preliminary study for the finished vignette An Old Manor-House, which was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, as the head-piece to a poem entitled ‘Human Life’ (see Tate D27718; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 201). Jan Piggott has noted that the Tudor style house resembles East Barsham Manor in Norfolk, a place Turner would have known from the topographical series, Architectural Antiquities, to which he had contributed an illustration in 1814.1 If this is the case, the spire to the left is an unrelated addition and Piggott has suggested the shape may be based on Grantham Church, Lincolnshire.2 The design may have been rejected because the structure appeared too grandiose for Rogers’s taste.3
The details of the composition also bear some similarity to the background of another finished Poems vignette, A Village Fair (see Tate D27717; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 200). In particular the scene includes the spire of a church, a line of regularly spaced trees and the double towers of a building, half-seen in the distance. Andrew Wilton has observed the resemblance of this church to St James’s church in Louth, Lincolnshire, the subject of Turner’s watercolour, The Horse Fair, Louth circa 1827 (British Museum),4 engraved for the topographical series Picturesque Views in England and Wales.5
The style and medium of this sketch are typical of Turner’s preparatory studies for Rogers’s Poems, which are made on papers of similar type and dimensions and tend to be executed in pencil and light watercolour wash. Here, Turner has made a fairly elaborate pencil drawing of the manor and blocked in broad areas of colour with wash. Several human figures, as well as trees and shrubbery, appear in the foreground.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘CCLXXX 15’ and ‘AB 117 P | M’ lower right. Also in red ink ‘712’ bottom left
- garden structures(1,939)
- country house(1,379)