This is one of ten large pencil drawings including D12110, D12111, D12115, D12116, D12117, D12118, D12119, D12120 and D12121 (Turner Bequest CLIV L, M, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W) that form a coherent group of sketches in the Wharfe and Washburn Valleys near Farnley Hall, the Yorkshire home of Turner’s patron Walter Fawkes, and record a tour up the River Wharfe from Farnley to Bolton Abbey. Several formed the bases of finished watercolours, some of which are dateable to 1809. Previously dubbed by the present writer the ‘Wharfedale and Washburn’ sketchbook, the drawings do not in fact form a sketchbook but nevertheless appear to record a single campaign, probably in the summer of 1808 on Turner’s first visit to Farnley. It is remarkable that Turner chose to sketch in pencil on such large sheets as these, and it is not at all clear what purpose the large scale was supposed to serve. They must have been problematic to handle in the open air, and we must presume that weather conditions were benign to have made it feasible to work with them.
The present sketch shows a stone quarry in Caley Park at the east end of Otley Chevin looking west up Wharfedale towards Otley and Ilkley. In the left foreground three men are splitting stone from the quarry face, while in the centre two more are cutting and dressing stones and at the right others are loading a cart. Farnley Hall is visible on the slopes on the opposite side of the valley at the right, and Caley Hall in the mid-distance, right of centre.