Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views on the River Thames with Figures in a Boat and Buildings and Trees Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 1 a

Catalogue entry

Subsequent to Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, both he and the Turner scholar C.F. Bell identified this as a ‘Thames’ scene.1 Although Jan Piggott followed Eric Shanes’s original note2 of this as one of Turner’s sketches relating to his watercolour Hampton Court Palace of about 1827 (private collection),3 engraved in 1829 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impression: T04550), Shanes later linked this page instead to an England and Wales-type ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25284; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 162), one of four which possibly represent another royal residence, Buckingham Palace.4
The main view here is elusive, with figures in a small rowing boat or punt and wooded banks beyond, apparently focusing on a house or archway in the central distance; while apparently not directly related topographically, the sketch may have informed the detail of a well-dressed woman and other figures angling from comfortable seats in a punt in the Hampton Court watercolour, as noted by Piggott.5 Compare also folio 2 verso (D20736), under which identified views in the vicinity elsewhere in this sketchbook are noted.
At the top left are tiny thumbnail sketches, of an arch (probably a small bridge) and tree, and trees and a small building or buildings; at the top centre is the façade of a classical building with a central pediment; and at the top right is wooded valley scene framed by pencil lines. At the bottom left, inverted relative to the main drawing and again framed by pencil lines, is a house with a prominent gable and chimney stacks beyond trees. All are currently unidentified if not effectively unidentifiable, but seem characteristic of the rural Thames Valley.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

Undated MS notes by Finberg (died 1939) and C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copies of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, p.698.
See Piggott 2006, p.9, and Shanes 1979, p.156.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.395 no.812.
See Shanes 1997, p.95.
See Piggott 2006, p.9.

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