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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A River, Probably the Pent Stream at Folkestone 1845

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
A River, Probably the Pent Stream at Folkestone 1845
Turner Bequest CCCLVI 2
Watercolour on white wove paper, 230 x 328 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘2’ bottom right
Blind stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCCLVI–2’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner has depicted the local river here, presumably the Pent Stream, which traditionally provided rich grounds for fishermen and a thoroughfare for cross-Channel vessels. In the foreground dilute washes of pale blue, indigo, and brown have been layered with more concentrated pigment to suggest topographical detail. A belt of reserved paper runs across the central register, providing a striking counterpart to the array of colours and painting techniques in the foreground. What appears to be the briefest suggestion of a distant town or dwellings rendered in small dabs of the brush run horizontally along the top of this unpainted area. Following this line, swift strokes of blue paint mark the river where a sailing-boat is moored or perhaps in transit. Turner has delineated the serpentine curve of a small tributary of the river in a blue summary line running towards the bottom right. The sky is comprised of unpainted paper and applications of loose translucent grey wash to evoke its overcast nature.
Technical notes:
Some of the grey wash from the top centre of the inside front cover (D35361) has offset onto the top centre of this folio.

Alice Rylance-Watson
February 2013

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘A River, Probably the Pent Stream at Folkestone 1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, June 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-river-probably-the-pent-stream-at-folkestone-r1142140, accessed 01 March 2021.