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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Wooded Landscape c.1807-14

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 40 Verso:
A Wooded Landscape c.1807–14
Turner Bequest CXXII 40a
Watercolour on white wove paper, 69 x 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Gerald Wilkinson has considered this composition, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, ‘a jewel of landscape art’, ‘perhaps the first example of a coloured brush drawing from Turner’s hand’,1 and effectively an early example of the so-called ‘Colour Beginnings’2 (for the largest grouping of which at Tate see Turner Bequest CCLXIII). John Gage has called it ‘a luminous little river scene’; both noted its characteristics as a ‘blot’, to use the parlance of Turner’s peers, harking back to the compositional experiments of Alexander Cozens (1717–1786), although Gage shows that deliberate seeking after accidental effects was not generally Turner’s practice.3
Possibly Turner tried watercolour here to test the unusually soft ‘velvet’ paper, which had yielded mixed results for pencil work (see the Technical notes for inside the front cover; D40998), while the composition was perhaps inspired by the Thames Valley (see the sketchbook’s Introduction).
There is a slight, inadvertent continuation on folio 39 verso (D41536).

Matthew Imms
September 2013

Wilkinson 1974, p.124.
Wilkinson 1977, p.127.
Gage 1969, p.58 (see also p.237 note 20); Wilkinson 1974, p.124.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Wooded Landscape c.1807–14 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 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/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-wooded-landscape-r1147825, accessed 18 July 2019.