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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Roadway between Trees beside a River c.1807-19

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Roadway between Trees beside a River circa 1807–19
Turner Bequest CXV 1
Pencil and watercolour on white wove lightweight writing paper, 233 x 376 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | 1807’
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘1’ bottom right
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXV 1’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The subject is unidentified, but appears to relate to various views of buildings between trees on the banks of the Thames dating from Turner’s stay at Isleworth in 1805, such as the watercolour view of Syon House and Kew Palace known as ‘The Swan’s Nest’ (Tate D04163; Turner Bequest LXX L – see also the Liber Studiorum drawing Isleworth, Tate D08163; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII I). A watercolour study of Kew Bridge and Palace in the Hesperides (1) sketchbook (Tate D05833; Vaughan Bequest XCIII 38a) and the related Kew Palace from the Thames, with Kew Bridge Beyond (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester)1 are closer compositionally to the present study, while the watercolour Landscape with Trees by a River (Manchester Art Gallery)2 develops a similar theme in reverse. Turner would later develop this motif in several of his views along the French rivers, such as Marly-sur-Seine, ?1830–1 (British Museum, London).3 In the absence of specific evidence, the span of the Liber Studiorum’s active publication, 1807–19, is suggested here as a date range for the present work (as it is for various other unpublished designs).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.346 no.413, reproduced, as ‘Eton College, from the Thames’.
Ibid., p.346 no.412, reproduced.
Ibid., p.424 no.1047, reproduced p.187 pl.205.
Technical notes:
The watercolour washes do not extend to the left-hand edge. Pencil work appears limited to a rough outline of the distant building, which was defined by painting round it with wash without carefully following the drawing. Washes of dark foliage on the trunks in the foreground have bled into the sky; one trunk towards the left was washed in and then washed out again, apparently while wet. The broad washes in the sky are now mottled.
This sheet was recorded by Finberg in 1909 as apparently still being in the sketchbook, but if so it was subsequently removed before the book was badly damaged by immersion in the basement of the Tate Gallery during the Thames flood of January 1928. His number, ‘1’, corresponds with the red ink folio numbers inscribed in the book by Ruskin. The whole sheet was taken from the book, leaving no stub, and then trimmed slightly irregularly along the line of stitching holes at the left-hand edge. Studies made on adjacent pages probably also show or are derived from Thames scenery: see Tate D08085–D08088; Turner Bequest CXV 2–5).1
Forrester 1996, p.24 note 81.
Blank, save for a few splashes of brown wash, offset from the drawing which originally followed the present sheet in the sketchbook (Tate D08085; Turner Bequest CXV 2)

Matthew Imms
May 2006

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Roadway between Trees beside a River c.1807–19 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2006, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-roadway-between-trees-beside-a-river-r1131806, accessed 20 July 2024.