Joseph Mallord William Turner

Syon House with Vegetation in Foreground


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 150 × 258 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XC 35

Catalogue entry

This view, probably from the Surrey bank of the Thames and thus opposite Turner’s home at Sion (or Syon) Ferry House, can be compared to a large watercolour study (Tate D04163; Turner Bequest LXX L). In the watercolour, foreground vegetation of the kind seen here in close-up becomes the focus of attention, giving shelter to a swan’s nest. Between this folio and folio 34 verso, Turner enclosed a pressed leaf, perhaps taken from the river-bank near Syon depicted here; this has now been bound into the book (D40571).
Ruskin’s endorsement for the sketchbook (see also Introduction) referred to folio 35 thus: ‘One leaf cut out, where a real leaf of herb is laid. The study cut out was of vegetation at Warwick. The leaf probably to illustrate it’. Finberg, noting the survival of the pressed leaf and the restoration of the associated folio to the book, corrected Ruskin’s remarks (‘It is a study at Windsor, not Warwick’) in line with his own mistaken identification of the drawing as depicting Windsor Castle; hence Bailey writes, ‘At some point near Windsor he [Turner] picked a leaf from a bush and pressed it between the pages’.

David Blayney Brown
August 2007

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