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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner An Upland Valley, with a Woman Driving Geese c.1816

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 36 Recto:
An Upland Valley, with a Woman Driving Geese c.1816
Turner Bequest CXXVIII 36
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 285 x 460 mm
Stamped in black ‘CXXVIII 36’ bottom right
Traces of a former stamp ‘CXV 12’? and a faint inscription in pencil ‘129’, barely visible to right of the obvious stamp
Blind-stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram bottom left
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Hitherto this subject has been described as ‘Wharfedale’ but there is nothing specific to identify the scene, although it is presumably somewhere near Farnley Hall, the seat of Turner’s friend and patron Walter Fawkes. The landscape appears almost totally denuded of trees, which suggests a location quite high up one of the side valleys off Wharfedale. The greatest probability would be the Upper Washburn Valley, and perhaps in the area of Blubberhouses or Thrusscross, although this part of the valley has been somewhat altered by the construction of reservoirs.
The sketch shows several large plumes of rising smoke, even though conditions appear to be damp. This is probably from the controlled burning of heather, which would suggest a very late season since this operation is usually carried out between November and March.
The geese are rather reminiscent of those in the foreground of the watercolour of Wycliffe (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),1 painted c.1816–18.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.365 no.568.
Technical notes:
The centre of the sheet is conspicuously faded, presumably a result of its exhibition in the nineteenth century.
Blank, except for a pencil inscription ‘CXXVIII 36’ and a small splash of blue watercolour, probably made while Turner was developing a watercolour from folio 37 (D09053), opposite.

David Hill
October 2009

How to cite

David Hill, ‘An Upland Valley, with a Woman Driving Geese c.1816 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, October 2009, 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-an-upland-valley-with-a-woman-driving-geese-r1146772, accessed 25 September 2020.