Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of a Town


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 241 × 324 mm
frame: 410 × 495 × 70 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

Turner painted this little picture as an exercise in the manner of Richard Wilson. It was probably not intended for sale. Besides Italian and historic landscapes, Wilson had excelled in unassuming studies of pure landscape, painted broadly in subdued colours. Turner singled him out as an artist whose style was especially suited to the British landscape and character. This view may be on the River Wye or in Wilson's native Wales. Turner visited sites associated with Wilson on a Welsh tour in 1798 and later reminisced about 'the days of my youth when I was in search of Richard Wilson's birthplace'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

31. [N00475] View of a Town c. 1798

The Tate Gallery, London (475)
Canvas, 9 1/2 × 12 3/4 (24 × 32·5)
Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (97, ‘Town View’ 1'1" × 4'3 1/2); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1910.

Exh. Richard Wilson Tate Gallery, 1925 (68); Tate Gallery 1931 (3); Birmingham (171) and Tate Gallery (164) 1948–9; Australian tour 1960 (1); R.A. 1974–5 (34).

Lit. Armstrong 1902, p. 233; MacColl 1920, p. 5; Davies 1946, p. 187.

A small but finished picture, close to Wilson in style and technique, particularly the large rock in the foreground, and perhaps derived, like No. 29 [N00466], from one of Turner's Welsh tours. The dimensions given in the Schedule of 1854 must be an error, as the larger dimension is normally given first regardless of whether it represents height or width.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984


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