Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Summer-house and Garden at ‘The Limes’, Mortlake, Looking West up the River Thames


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 144 × 228 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII a 1

Catalogue entry

This sketch relates to Turner’s oil painting Mortlake Terrace, the Seat of William Moffatt, Esq. Summer’s Evening, shown at the Royal Academy in 1827 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).1 As observed by Butlin and Joll,2 Finberg inadvertently linked it in his 1909 Turner Bequest Inventory to The Seat of William Moffatt Esq., at Mortlake. Early (Summer’s) Morning, exhibited at the same venue in 1826 (Frick Collection, New York),3 which shows the view in the opposite direction.
As noted in the Introduction to the present subsection, this is one of four drawings which are supplementary or complementary to the studies in the Mortlake and Pulborough sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CCXIII), probably in use at Mortlake in 1825. The direct source for Summer’s Evening is a double-page Mortlake and Pulborough sketch (Tate D18733–D18734; Turner Bequest CCXIII 15a–16), and the juxtaposition of the tree trunks in the latter is followed very closely in the painting. The spacing and details of the trees in the present view suggest it was drawn independently on the spot from a viewpoint nearer to the summer-house. Compare also Tate D25517 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII a 2), a rather slighter reprise of the same subject; the summer-house is seen in more detail in Tate D34018 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 299), presumably drawn on the same occasion.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.147–8 no.239, pl.237 (colour).
Ibid., p.148.
Ibid., pp.144–5 no.235, pl.236 (colour); see Finberg 1909, II. p.845.
Technical notes:
Finberg describes the paper as ‘grey’1 but in common with the other three separate Mortlake studies (Tate D25517, D25518, D34018; Turner Bequest CCLXIII a 2, 3, CCCXLI 299) it appears merely off-white, presumably through age, with brown mottling. The edges are all slightly irregular, and the top edge appears to have been formed by folding a larger sheet and tearing along the fold, as there is a remnant extending a little above the straight edge towards the top left. There is a shallow diagonal crease at the top right, in common with D25518 and the top left of D34018 (corresponding when seen from the verso), which may also relate in some way to the loss of about the same size at the top left of D25517, suggesting that the four sheets were at least initially kept together.
Finberg 1909, II, p.845.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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