Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Pass of Stelvio, with Other Mountainous Views

c.1828–43

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 210 × 305 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D34171
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 435

Catalogue entry

The sheet comprises various drawings of mountain passes, presumably in the same area; they are somewhat confused and overlapping, and there may be one overall horizontal view as well as several smaller ones made with at right angles, at least two of which include small buildings. One is apparently inscribed ‘Stilvo’, presumably for Stelvio, as Finberg recorded it.1 The Stelvio Pass is in the Northern Italian Alps, between Stelvio and Bormio.
Turner is thought to have been there in 1842,2 but the dating and thus the ultimate placing of this sheet within Turner’s Italian tours awaits confirmation. A watercolour traditionally known as ‘Stelvio Pass’3 is now called Montjovet from below St Vincent, Looking down the Val d’Aosta towards Berriaz, and dated to 1836 (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin); another, The Pass of Stelvio (currently untraced), has been dated to about 1842.4
See the Introduction to this section for further brief discussion and dating.
1
See Finberg 1909, II, p.1095.
2
See Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.473.
3
Ibid., no.1443, reproduced, as ‘Stelvio Pass (?)’, c.1836.
4
Not in Wilton 1979; English Watercolours, exhibition catalogue, Leger Galleries, London 1982, unpaginated no.16, reproduced in colour.
Technical notes:
The left-hand edge is darkened, apparently from prolonged exposure to light and dust. Paper conservator Peter Bower has noted numerous examples from Turner Bequest section CCCXLI of quarter sheets of paper with a watermark of letters ‘CS and laurel leaves’, paired with a separate mark of three numbers; they may come from one of the Brescia paper mill in Lombardy, from which there are comparable datable sheets from the 1830s and early 1840s.1
1
See Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.113.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘435’ bottom right. The surface is rubbed, with some dark marks.

Matthew Imms
February 2016

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