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
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 320 × 560 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 348

Display caption

From the mid 1820s Turner was involved in the production of illustrations for the annual pocket-books produced by rival publishers for the Christmas market. This is a colour study, preparatory to the view of the Thames from Richmond Hill engraved by Edward Goodall for the Literary Souvenir in 1826. This included a number of elegant figures enjoying the famous prospect, including ladies with parasols whose forms are clearly anticipated on the left of this watercolour.

Gallery label, August 2004

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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 subsequently produced two watercolours of the view: Richmond Hill of about 1825 or possibly a little earlier (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight),3 engraved in 1826 for the Literary Souvenir (Tate impression: T06132); and Richmond Terrace, Surrey of about 1836 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),4 engraved in 1838 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04611, T06128).
The present study has been linked variously to both watercolours in general,5 to the Literary Souvenir,6 or to the later England and Wales version.7 Ian Warrell has noted the ‘halo-like forms’ prefiguring the ‘genteel figures’ in the first of these – although they do not match exactly those in either of the watercolours – while also observing that the pencil outlines of trees towards the right prefigure those in the later version only.8 The wall indicated at the far left, again only seen in the finished England and Wales composition, leaves the dating of the present work in relation to the two watercolours in some doubt.
The ‘colour beginning’ Tate D25509 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 385) shows a similar view, and its dating is equally uncertain. For another possible Richmond colour study for England and Wales, see Tate D25198 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 76).
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
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).
Wilton 1979, p.359 no.518, pl.135.
Ibid., p.403 no.879, reproduced.
Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.96.
Including Wilton 1979, p.518; Wilton 1983, p.259; Warrell 1991, p.42.
Shanes 1997, pp.96, 106.
Warrell 1991, p.42.
Technical notes:
The sheet has been laid down on tissue paper, and the ‘B.E. & S. | 1823’ note by Warrell1 is not readily evident. The top edge has been trimmed irregularly; there are strips of brown colour along it towards the right, suggesting that Turner worked on another landscape composition ‘above’ before dividing the sheet.
Warrell 1991, p.42.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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