Joseph Mallord William Turner

Waterside Buildings and Mountains, ?South of France or Italy


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 137 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 15

Technique and condition

This watercolour sketch was painted on a medium weight, blue/grey, wove paper. All four edges have been torn rather than cut.
Prior to conservation in 2009 the edges of the verso were inflexible owing to the presence of adhesive residue. During conservation paper adhesions (the remnants of an old lining) were also removed from the verso. At some point the sheet has had lining tape adhered around all the edges; this has left a fairly prominent ridge around the edges of the recto.
There is aqueous staining across the verso, most prominently in the bottom left hand corner. This has caused a brownish discolouration to these areas of the verso and in the bottom left hand corner foxing-type stains are visible suggesting mould. This aqueous damage is also visible around the skyline on the left-hand edge of the recto. In the top right hand corner of the recto the brownish discolouration is also visible. There is also a faint tide line across the bottom edge of the recto which appears to have been caused by moisture from the adhesive previously applied to the verso. There is an unidentified light blue stain in the top left-hand corner of the recto. A small amount of blue watercolour is visible on the right-hand edge of the verso, nearly half way up the sheet.
The paint application in this composition is made up of a series of fairly dry washes, allowing the paper to show through the paint to create texture and depth in the landscape. In particular the various blues of the sea and sky are pigment dense washes. The blue/grey of the paper has been used to great effect in this work, contrasting with the strong oranges and reds at the centre of the composition. A peachy coloured gouache has been used in the very centre of the composition to indicate the stonework of the architecture. Red watercolour, painted with a fine brush was used to add the linear detail after the rest of the composition was completed. The work is in good condition with the colours retaining much of their vibrancy.

Helen Evans
July 2009

Catalogue entry

This is one of a large number of sketches on loose sheets of paper depicting hill towns, wooded scenery and rocky coastal terrain, here identified with Turner’s various tours of South of France and Italy. For the grouping and dating of these works, see the section introduction.
Inscribed in pencil ‘180a’ centre. Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXCII 15’ bottom left.
Technical notes:
There is brown staining across the lower half of the page.

John Chu
June 2015

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