Joseph Mallord William Turner

?The Mill Pool, Dartmouth or Harlech Castle, North Wales


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 345 × 482 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 6

Catalogue entry

Finberg described this loose colour study as ‘On the moors. Possibly Richmond, Yorks[hire]’; compare Tate D17204 (Turner Bequest CXCVII N), a direct colour study for Turner’s view of the town and surrounding moors for his Picturesque Views in England and Wales. Although at first sight a scene in wild countryside, the present composition includes light pencil indications of what appear to be buildings on the summit of the central hill, but bears no resemblance to any of Turner’s Richmond compositions.
Eric Shanes has tentatively suggested this work as an England and Wales-type study either for an undeveloped view of the Mill Pool, Dartmouth, Devon,1 or for the watercolour Harlech Castle of about 1834–5 (private collection),2 engraved in 1836 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04606, T06120).3
In its arrangement of interlocking hills and valleys and its green-brown and blue-grey palette, it resembles to an extent two other colour studies identified by Shanes as showing Dartmouth (Tate D25184 and D25162; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 40, 62); for the subject, see the entries for those works. Colour studies of Harlech, identified with varying degrees of certainty, are Tate D25146, D25232, D25240 and D25289 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 24, 110, 118, 167). Of these, D25240 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 118), compositionally the furthest from the finished England and Wales watercolour of Harlech, includes similar basic elements to the present work’s, with a silhouetted form in the middle, seen against the horizon from a valley in the foreground, and with tentative architectural outlines above the central mass. With the Dartmouth studies dated in the present catalogue to about 1828–30, and those of Harlech to about 1834–5, and assuming there is any more than fortuitous relationship to either group, the present work is here dated to c.1828–35, but any such identification and dating are likely to remain speculative.
See also the Introductions to the present subsection of tentatively identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Shanes 1997, pp.18, 94, 95, 104.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.401 no.867.
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 95, 98, 104.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like