Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vessels on the River Medway at Rochester


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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

Catalogue entry

As recognised by Finberg, the main prospect described on this page was recorded at Rochester.1 The spire of the Cathedral is evident at far left, followed by the tower of the Castle closer to the centre of the page. A rendering of Rochester Bridge stretches across most of the right half of the sheet, behind various vessels occupying the waterway closer to the foreground of the scene. Similar shipping dominates the view across the whole page, masts standing up in front of the topography and buildings behind.
Elsewhere on the sheet, small sketches briefly record extra topographic details. At top left, one such drawing describes sharply deviating topography, all flat lines and steep, smooth slopes. In a much lighter hand, Turner includes beneath this a scene which is by contrast erratic; comprised of tiny swooping curves and dashed-off dots. At bottom right a very small prospect seems to observe a section of shoreline in the foreground, with tall, vertical masts of buoyant vessels producing a spiky forest on the horizon.
Several indistinct, perhaps accidental, lines mark the centre of the sheet, towards the bottom. For a comprehensive list of drawings in this sketchbook which describe views of Rochester, see the entry for folio 18 recto (D17394).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.608.

Read full Catalogue entry

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