Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of a River from a Terrace: ?Mâcon


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper laid on paper
Support: 232 × 332 mm
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900
Turner Bequest CXVIII Y

Catalogue entry

Henry Vaughan by 1878
(see main catalogue entry)
This drawing has traditionally been categorised as an unengraved design for the Liber Studiorum, and linked with Turner’s large oil painting The Festival upon the Opening of the Vintage at Macon, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 (Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust),1 which had left his studio in 1804. The painting is based on studies in the Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate D04956, D05018–D05019; Turner Bequest LXXXI 54, 116–117), in turn derived from on a slight drawing in the France, Savoy, Piedmont sketchbook (Tate D04411; Turner Bequest LXXIII 19) made on Turner’s first Continental tour in 1802, and inscribed ‘Macon’; as has now been recognised, the latter drawing in fact shows Tournus, also on the Saône but some miles to the north.2
Despite the basic overall similarity of the compositions, each centred on the bend of a river and a bridge, the connection has been questioned on the grounds of their otherwise considerable differences.3 In the painting, the wide expanse of the foreground is populated by numerous small-scale figures, whereas the drawing’s half-ruined terrace and arches have the more intimate air of an abandoned garden. The central motif of a river bend seen from wooded heights, informed by the famous view of the Thames from Richmond Hill, is the basis of later oils such as Thomson’s Aeolian Harp, exhibited in 1809 (Manchester Art Gallery),4 England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday, exhibited in 1819 (Tate N00502)5 and the upright Devon composition Crossing the Brook, exhibited in 1815 (Tate N00497).6 As has been noted, these may have been informed by Claude Lorrain’s painting (or its engraving) Jacob with Laban and his Daughters (Petworth House, West Sussex),7 itself imitated by Turner in oils as Apullia in Search of Appullus vide Ovid, exhibited in 1814 (Tate N00495),8 and later engraved for the Liber Studiorum, though not published.9
The watercolour belonged to Henry Vaughan by 1878,10 and in 1896 Frank Short etched and mezzotinted the composition,11 as one of his interpretations of the unengraved Liber designs (Tate T05070;12 see general Liber introduction).
Butlin and Joll, 1984, pp.36–7 no.47, pl.55 (colour).
David Hill, Turner in the Alps: The Journey through France & Switzerland in 1802, London 1992, pp.25, 27, 29.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.36.
Ibid., pp.64–5 no.86, pl.96 (colour).
Ibid., pp.106–7 no.140, pl.145 (colour).
Ibid., pp.93–4 no.130, pl.123 (colour).
See ibid., pp.36, 65, pl.567.
Ibid., pp.91–2 no.128, pl.134.
Rawlinson 1878, pp.144–5 no.72; 1906, pp.169–70 no.72; Alexander J. Finberg, The History of Turner’s Liber Studiorum with a New Catalogue Raisonné, London 1924, pp.287–90 no.72.
Rawlinson 1878, p.170.
Hardie 1938, p.70 no.37, reproduced p.[111] pl.XVI.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986 – 88, London 1996, p.76.
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files.
Sparrow 1903, p.M W iii.
Forrester 1996, pp.16, 25 note 86 (analysis by Peter Bower, acknowledged p.8); however, Bower, Tate conservation files, lists the other four but not the present sheet in association with the sketchbook.

Matthew Imms
May 2006

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