Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three River Views at Rochester


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 20

Catalogue entry

Made with the sketchbook turned vertically, the three drawings on this page seem to describe views at and around Rochester observed from the north bank of the River Medway, as identified by Finberg.1 The topmost sketch confirms this identification most clearly. With a sharp pencil, Turner intricately records the Cathedral at left of centre, the tower of the Castle to the right of centre, and Rochester Bridge at far right, stretching beyond the remit of the sheet. Two vessels are depicted on the water, to the right of the Castle in the foreground.
The scene shown second from the top is less definitive, but seems centred on the shaded tower of the Castle, which rises out from the indistinct, topographic forms which surround it. For a comprehensive list of studies made at Rochester in this sketchbook, and an indication of their relevance to Turner’s oeuvre more broadly, see the entry for folio 18 recto (D17394).
The third composition is crowded with detail, displaying a burgeoning waterway. Boats at far right indicate the presence of the river, which presumably wends between the sloping prospects at either side of the page. The distinctive landmarks of Rochester are not evident here, suggesting that Turner changed his perspective, perhaps looking northeast towards Frindsbury, which is described more definitively on folio 16 recto (D17390).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.608.

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