Joseph Mallord William Turner

The House and Garden at ‘The Limes’, Mortlake, Looking North-East down the River Thames


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXIII 11

Catalogue entry

As has long been recognised,1 this drawing is the most direct source for the painting The Seat of William Moffatt Esq., at Mortlake. Early (Summer’s) Morning, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1826 (Frick Collection, New York);2 a companion piece, Mortlake Terrace, the Seat of William Moffatt, Esq. Summer’s Evening, was shown at the same venue the following year (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).3 As painted, the morning composition was extended slightly below, enabling the perspective of the riverside wall to be made a little steeper, and further at the top, to allow room for the canopies of the trees and clear sky above. Most of an additional tree, shown to the left on folio 10 verso opposite (D18724) was also incorporated, as was the narrow band of trees to the right of the house, which Turner recorded by pulling the present page back a little to the left and continuing to draw at the outer edge of folio 12 recto (D18726). The boats indicated on the River Thames here have similar counterparts in the painting, while the view through the trees north-east along the bank to Barnes and beyond was based on the more detailed study on folios 12 verso–13 recto (D18727–D18728). Gardeners cutting the grass and two gentlemen leaning on the river wall were also introduced.
Although the core of the house survives, the west front shown here was later extended outwards, and the garden built over. For more on the house, the paintings and related studies, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.648, Frick Collection, I, 1968, pp.131, 132 note 1, Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, pp.102, 103, Herrmann 1975, p.232, Wilkinson 1975, p.31, Butlin and Joll 1984, p.145, Warrell 1991, p.48, Galassi 1996, p.[9].
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.144–5 no.235, pl.236 (colour).
Ibid., pp.147–8 no.239, pl.237 (colour).
Technical notes:
The leaf has been removed from the sketchbook and reattached. The loose pencil marks towards the top and bottom of the gutter on the verso relate to this process; such marks often occur on the backs of double-page spreads extracted for display in the nineteenth century, but there appears to be no record of such an event in this case, which would have involved the drawing spanning D18724 and the present page. The ink number on the verso is of the type also usually indicating early display.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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