Joseph Mallord William Turner

The River Medway at Rochester


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 x 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 28

Catalogue entry

Across this and the facing page on folio 27 verso (D17410), Turner produces a panoramic view of Rochester from a position on the northern bank of the River Medway, near Strood. Demonstrating a keen interest in recording the breadth of the landscape as well as its evocative details, the result is a neatly realised and elaborate composition.
The present page is concerned with the western half of the view, with the town of Rochester towards the east on the facing folio. Here, a final sliver of the Bridge is evident at far left, a watershed landmark separating bustling industry from quiet, rural reflection. The riverbanks begin as flat plains. From there, the topography ascends. As it does so, Turner’s handling transforms from tightly controlled at far left to gestural freedom at right.
For more information about Turner’s ongoing relationship with Rochester, and how and where he described it in the pages of this sketchbook, see the entry for folio 18 recto (D17394).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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