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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Distant Building by a Lake or River at Dawn c.1820-40

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Distant Building by a Lake or River at Dawn c.1820–40
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 178
Chalk and watercolour on white wove paper, 315 x 487 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed by ?Turner in pencil ‘[...]’ bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 178’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The loose landscape forms here suggest trees reflected in a wide river or lake, while the pale yellow of the clear sky over the horizon indicates an early morning scene. There may be a substantial building on the skyline towards the right (presumably Finberg’s ‘castle by the sea’1), or possibly a stand of trees. Rough pencil work appears to outline a building with a spire among the trees on the left, and birds tow over the water opposite, with their reflections.
Eric Shanes has tentatively suggested a connection to Turner’s work on a series of panoramic landscape paintings for Lord Egremont’s Carved Room at Petworth House in Sussex in the late 1820s,2 in particular Chichester Canal of about 1829 (Tate T03885, displayed at Petworth)3 and the full-size study Chichester Canal of about 1828 (Tate N00560),4 both roughly symmetrical compositions with trees flanking the broad canal. Any generic similarity to the paintings appears to be fortuitous; see also Tate D25230 and D25233 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 108, 111).
Other compositions with trees beside water in the present section are Tate D25182, D25191, D25303, D25363, D25495 and D25498 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 60, 69, 181, 241, 372, 375a).
Finberg 1909, II, p.828.
See Shanes 1997, p.94.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.168 no.290, pl.292 (colour).
Ibid., p.166 no.285, pl.287 (colour).
Blank; inscribed by John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 150 P | O’ top left, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 178’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 178’ bottom right. There are brown stains along the bottom edge, and scattered black stains which may be handprints.

Matthew Imms
December 2015

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Distant Building by a Lake or River at Dawn c.1820–40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 2015, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-distant-building-by-a-lake-or-river-at-dawn-r1183218, accessed 26 May 2024.