J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Farnley sketchbook 1818

Turner Bequest CLIII
Sketchbook, bound in plain buff boards, with red leather spine, a brass clasp attached to the back cover and a brass catch-plate attached to the front cover
90 leaves of white wove paper, made by William Allee of Hurstbourne Priory Mill, Hampshire, with the fore-edges tinted yellow.
Approximate page size 111 x 185 mm
Watermarked ‘ALLEE 1813’
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘Farnley’ on the back cover (D40718 ) and ‘122’ on a parchment label attached to the spine
Endorsed by the Executors of the Turner Bequest in ink ‘No.317 Contains 20 Leaves | Pencil Sketches’ and signed by Henry Scott Trimmer ‘H. S. Trimmer’ and Charles Turner ‘C. Turner’ and initialled by Charles Lock Eastlake ‘C. L. E.’ and John Prescott Knight ‘JPK’ inside the back cover (D40717)
Stamped in brown ‘CLIII’ on the front cover
Blind-stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram on the back cover spine-cloth
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This sketchbook was used at Farnley Hall, the Yorkshire home of Turner’s friend and patron Walter Fawkes,1 for a series of ten sketches – some stretching over three pages – of the house and its near surroundings. The book is of the medium size that Turner often used in mid-career, but is rather thicker than usual, and Turner must have selected it in anticipation of a fairly major project. In the event the vast majority of the book, except for three pages of studies for a sea-piece at the end, remained unused.
The book was dated 1816–18 by Finberg and this span has been followed by most scholars since, but the date of 1818 on the armorial tablet drawn inside the back cover (D40717) points specifically to Turner’s visit to Farnley in the late autumn of that year.2 Circumstantial evidence, particularly the presence of sketches (D12047, D12096, D12098; Turner Bequest CLIII 41, 89a, 90a) related to the painting Entrance of the Meuse: Orange-Merchant on the Bar, Going to Pieces; Brill Church Bearing S.E. by S., Masensluys E. by S. (Tate N00501)3 exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819, would support a dating to November 1818. This catalogue suggests thast Fawkes may have been considering, or perhaps Turner was proposing, a Dutch open-sea marine as a companion to the canal subject, Dort, or Dordrecht, the Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut)4 which was exhibited at the Academy in 1818 and bought by Fawkes, who had just hung it in his drawing room at Farnley.
Other notable drawings in the book record the gates and lodges apparently designed for the Farnley estate by Turner himself, and the elegant interiors and furnishings of rooms such as the Georgian library and drawing room in the new block added to Farnley by the architect John Carr of York (D12107–D12023; Turner Bequest CLIII 13a–17). Related watercolours and other views of the house and estate are among the works painted for Fawkes listed elsewhere in the sketchbook (D12011, D12013; Turner Bequest CLIII 10a, 11a).
For Fawkes in general see James Hamilton, ‘Fawkes, Walter Ramsden (1769–1825), in Oxford Companion, pp.103–5..
Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Second Edition, Revised, with a Supplement, by Hilda F. Finberg, revised ed., Oxford 1961, p.254.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.105–6 no.139 (pl.143).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.102–4 no.137 (pl.140).

David Hill
June 2009

Revised by David Blayney Brown
July 2013

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How to cite

David Hill, ‘Farnley sketchbook 1818’, sketchbook, June 2009, revised by David Blayney Brown, July 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/farnley-sketchbook-r1146626, accessed 22 May 2024.