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 on paper
Support: 372 × 584 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 385

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 The wall indicated at the far left and the possible hint of a tree trunk towards the right, only seen in the finished England and Wales composition, suggest this may be a study for that version, although the tentative nature of these features and the 1824 watermark do not preclude the present work’s being related to the Literary Souvenir.
The ‘colour beginning’ Tate D25471 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 348) 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, pp.259–60.
Shanes 1997, pp.96, 107.
Technical notes:
The top edge has been trimmed irregularly. There is a discrete band of colour along that edge, including browns towards the right, suggesting that Turner worked on another landscape composition ‘above’ this one before dividing the sheet.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘385’ top left, descending vertically. There is a splash or offset of blue colour at the centre left.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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