Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Colour Studies: Hardraw Force, Barnard Castle and Hall Beck Gill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 556 × 448 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 369

Catalogue entry

This sheet is comprised of three different studies, each using a different orientation of the paper. Eric Shanes takes this as proof that Turner ‘turned the board’ when making his watercolours,1 pointing towards the insight this sheet provides into Turner’s way of working when developing his ideas through these loose and evocative colour studies. Turner similarly grouped two drawings on another sheet in this section (Tate D25504; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 38).
David Hill has identified the three subjects as Barnard Castle (upper left when the paper is orientated vertically), Hardraw Force in Wensleydale (below) and Kex Gill (upper right)2. Hill has since corrected ‘Kex Gill’ to ‘Hall Beck Gill’ in relation to Turner’s sketches of the area; see note 1 in his entry for Tate D09023 (Turner Bequest CXXVIII 7).
The study of Hardraw Force has a clear relationship with a finished watercolour of the subject (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)3 and was engraved by Samuel Middiman (1751–1831) and John Pye (1782–1874) and published as Hardraw Fall for Whitaker’s History of Richmondshire in 1818 (Tate impressions T04468, T04469, T04470, T06048). Turner sketched the waterfall during his 1816 tour of Yorkshire (Tate D11547; Turner Bequest CXLVIII 15, D11548; Turner Bequest CXLVIII 15a, D11570; Turner Bequest CXLVIII 28a).
It has been pointed out that the castle motif identified as Barnard Castle reoccurs in another loose colour sheet containing more than one study (Tate D25504; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 380).4 Sketchbook drawings that might be related date from the 1816 tour of Yorkshire (Tate D11493; Turner Bequest CXLVII 32, Tate D11207; Turner Bequest CXLV 103, Tate D11208; Turner Bequest CXLV 103 a). As Hill points out in his catalogue entry for D11493, Turner had also drawn the viewpoint shown by these studies during his 1797 tour of Northern England (see Tate D00935; Turner Bequest XXXIV 29). This colour study may also relate to the finished watercolour (Yale Center for British Art) and print (Tate impressions: T04517, T04518) published as part of the later England and Wales series5 as a much earlier stage in Turner’s development of the idea, but it did not materialise as a finished subject in Whitaker’s Richmondshire.
The final study, a loosely handled landscape subject, shows the Dovestone at Hall Beck Gill, an area Turner had opportunities to explore while staying at Farnley Hall, the home of his friend and patron, Walter Fawkes. Turner made a number of sketches of this area during his 1816 tour of Yorkshire, one of which seems to be the source of this ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D09799; Turner Bequest CXXXIV 10).
Shanes, 1997, p.28.
Hill 1984, p.53.
Wilton 1979, p.366 no.574 reproduced.
Martin Butlin, Andrew Wilton and John Gage, Turner 1775–1851, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1974, p.80 no.175.
Wilton 1979, p.392 no.793 (reproduced).

Elizabeth Jacklin
February 2015

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