Joseph Mallord William Turner

Trees by a Lake or River at Dawn


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 351 × 510 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 60

Catalogue entry

The loose landscape forms here suggest trees reflected in a wide river or lake, while the pale yellow of the clear sky over the horizon to the right indicates an early morning scene. As well as listing this work among unidentified river views and sky studies, Eric Shanes tentatively suggested a connection to Turner’s work in Venice1 (which he visited in 1819, 1833 and 1840), perhaps thinking of pale, atmospheric watercolours such as Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore Early Morning from the 1819 Como and Venice sketchbook (Tate D15254; Turner Bequest CLXXXI 4), but the vertical forms appear natural rather than architectural in this case.
For similar scenes within the present section, see Tate D25191, D25230, D25233, D25300, D25303, D25363, D25495 and D25498 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 69, 108, 111, 178, 181, 241, 372, 375a)
See Shanes 1997, pp.101, 102 and 103 respectively.
Technical notes:
Whether by accident or design, the speckled texture of the vertical watercolour strokes at the left suggest unevenness in the original glue sizing of the sheet or the active application of a stopping-out agent such as gum arabic.
There are intermittent ruled pencil lines around 50 mm in from all the edges, either made by the artist to isolate an area of the image for potential further development, or by a later hand as a guide for mounting, although no exhibition history is recorded.
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
December 2015

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