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 on paper
Support: 114 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 89 a

Catalogue entry

Turner had a long association with the Richmond upon Thames area,1 and his most ambitious version of the view west up the river from Richmond Hill was the large painting England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday, exhibited in 1819 (Tate N00502);2 he also built a house for himself at Twickenham, below the hill on the opposite bank, although this had been sold in 1826 (see the ‘Sandycombe Lodge c.1808–12’ section of the present catalogue). He produced two watercolours of this habitual view: the early 1820s Richmond Hill (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight),3 engraved in 1826 for the Literary Souvenir (Tate impression: T06132); and Richmond Terrace, Surrey (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),4 engraved in 1838 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04611, T06128).
The present sketch, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, continues for the full width of folio 91 recto opposite (D22319; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 90). In this half the characteristic bend of the Thames below the hill is shown in the middle distance, looking west. There is another view from the hill on folios 89 verso–90 recto (D22316, D22317; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 88a, 89).
The date of these Richmond views is unconfirmed; for convenience they have been assigned here to 1831, the likely year of the Midlands subjects recorded on most of the other pages in this sketchbook, but they could have been made some time before, given the 1820 watermarks on other pages; both share pages with small Midlands sketches which seem to have been fitted in to utilise blank space, suggesting that the Richmond subjects were already present. The presence of watercolour tests on the opposite page suggests that Turner had the sketchbook open at this point while working on a composition in colour, and the general prospect on the present page in itself correlates reasonably closely with that shown in the England and Wales view, suggesting that the latter may have at least been informed by this sketch.
See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, pp.53–62 and in general.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.106–7 no.140, Pl.145 (colour).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.359 no.518, pl.135.
Ibid., p.403 no.879, reproduced.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

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