James Ward

First Compositional Study for ‘Gordale Scar’


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
James Ward 1769–1859
Graphite on paper
Support: 273 × 364 mm
Purchased 1983

Catalogue entry


Pencil on cream paper 10 3/4 × 14 1/4 (273 × 364)
Inscribed ‘Malham water|Augt. 15th 1811’ in pencil lower left with ‘JWD. [in monogram] RA’ added in pencil below that, at a later date, and ‘Gordale’ also added in pencil, at a later date, bottom left of centre
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Prov: By descent from the artist to Professor Robert Werner and thence to his daughter Mme E. Arnold, from whom purchased by the Tate Gallery
Exh: James Ward's Gordale Scar - An Essay in the Sublime, Tate Gallery, November 1982–January 1983 (2, repr. p.36)

This is one of the earliest studies for the very large (131 × 166in) painting generally known as ‘Gordale Scar’, on which Ward worked from 1811 to 1815, and which he exhibited at the RA in 1815 (225) with the title ‘A View of Gordale, in the manor of East Malham in Craven, Yorkshire, the property of Lord Ribblesdale’; the painting is in the Tate's collection (N01043).

Edward J. Nygren's note on this drawing in the Gordale Scar exhibition catalogue (pp.36–7) is as follows: ‘The first overall dated compositional study for the painting, this perspective drawing of the Scar treats the view in terms of mass and planes. By this time, Ward must have visited most of the sites in the area since his view is less an accurate transcription of the Scar itself than a synthesis of visual impression of the geological features of the area, including nearby Malham Cove. There are faint line drawings of the bull on the right and cattle on the left.’

Three studies for ‘Gordale Scar’ already in the Tate's collection were included in the Gordale Scar exhibition of 1982–3: a panoramic view (5, repr., N03703), a view of the falls of water (12, repr., N02142) and a preliminary study of fighting stags (27, repr., N05161). For another study acquired with T03577, see T03578.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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