Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Thames from Richmond Hill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 188 × 272 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVII B

Display caption

This view of the Thames from Richmond Hill reoccurs in Turner's oils, watercolours, pencil sketches and prints over many years. He was evidently fond of the view and had close associations with the
area since he lived near Twickenham
for several years.


This unassuming study predates his grand, large scale canvas England: Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent's Birthday (shown in room C6). There the same view is populated with incident
and activity.


Gallery label, September 2004

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Technique and condition

This colour beginning was executed on white wove paper in overlapping washes of yellow and blue applied initially to very wet paper, creating bright mixed greens. Graphite pencil drawing can be seen in the clouds, to emphasise the forms already created by painting. The highlights of the river were left blank, while the less dazzling lights in the river were washed out with a brush-load of plain water. The bright blue of the sky was applied later to dried paper, which is the reason that these washes have very hard edges. Completing the sky last was Turner’s normal practice in oil paintings, and he quite often did the same in watercolour, especially in more developed compositions.
The bright blue of the sky is likely painted with Prussian blue, while yellow and brown earth pigments can be seen in the foreground washes. Mixing these gave a range of vivid greens for the landscape, which would have been difficult to achieve with the more traditional blue indigo.

Helen Evans
October 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
March 2011

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