Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Sesto Calende and a Study of a Woman; and Inscriptions by Turner


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Turner has used the inside back cover of the sketchbook to make a couple of small drawings, as well as notes and calculations.
In the top left-hand corner is a landscape sketch which the artist has labelled ‘Sesto’ in the bottom right-hand corner. This indicates that it is a view of Sesto Calende, a town at the southern tip of Lake Maggiore where the River Ticino flows south towards the River Po. Turner passed through the area en route to Milan, following his tour around the Italian Lakes and the expedition into the Swiss Alps to see the Simplon Pass. A further, more detailed study can be found on folios 13 verso–14 (D14169–14170; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 12a–13). Aside from a view of Arona on folios 92 verso–93 (D14323–D14324; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 91a–2), these appear to be the only subjects within this sketchbook documenting Turner’s return journey to Milan. Further related sketches can be found in the Passage of the Simplon sketchbook however (see Tate, Turner Bequest CXCIV).
Also on the page is a small study of a woman, executed with the sketchbook held vertically. Turner has annotated the figure with colour notes, variously ‘Red’, ‘W[hite]’, ‘[?S...], ‘Blue’ and ‘Red’.
Furthermore the sheet contains a number of written inscriptions. Top centre is a sum: ‘5 15 | 10 | 5 | 10 | 7 10’, while top right is a note which reads ‘[?Cl...] [?Como] | Sisto Rue de [...]’. Meanwhile, on the far right-hand side, with the sketchbook held vertically, Turner has written a list of locations pertaining to the route to the Simplon Pass. The text reads as follows: [?Gisteg] or In Gondo [...] [?K...] of [?R...] | Glacier of [...] | North of [...] | Cascade of Gondo 1 ½ is [?t...] [...] high | Zwisben 4 Gall Cascade Frossione or Alpenbach | 5 G 202 | [?P M....] | Ossola Diverdro 2 Gondo | Str[?isne] of Iselles | Val of Divedro | 6 Gall Po | Crevola [sketch of bridge] 60’.

Nicola Moorby
January 2013

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