Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Rokeby’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 243 × 173 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 285

Catalogue entry

This is one of four loose ‘colour beginnings’ related to the 1822 watercolour Rokeby (The Higgins, Bedford),1 showing a rocky, wooded ravine on the River Greta (see also Tate D25371, D25409 and D25411; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 249, 286, 288). This connection was established by Eric Shanes;2 see under D25371 for discussion of the circumstances, subject and composition of the finished design.
The present variation gives more prominence to the rock face occupying the left-hand side, whereas the completed composition shows a path winding round the base, and a sheer, sunlit cliff on the opposite side, left blank at the top right here. The sense of sunlight ‘filtering down from the left’ would be retained.3
Wilton 1979, p.424 no.1053, reproduced.
See Shanes 1997, pp.16–17, 30, 84–6, 97, 99, 101; see also Joll 2002, p.272, House 2006, p.12, and House 2013, p.31.
See Shanes 1997, p.86.
Blank; there is some mottled brown and grey watercolour offsetting, possibly from one of the related studies. Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 219 P | O’ bottom left, descending vertically; inscribed in pencil ‘69a’ towards bottom centre, descending vertically; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 285’ towards bottom left, descending vertically; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 285’ towards top left, descending vertically; inscribed in pencil ‘D 25408; top left, descending vertically.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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