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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Distant Hills at Dawn c.1820-40

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Distant Hills at Dawn c.1820–40
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 126
Watercolour on white wove paper, 381 x 545 mm
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 126’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This elemental colour study shows apparently shows a range of hills beyond a plain with trees in the distance, below a pale dawn sky. Andrew Wilton suggested it was a view of the Roman Campagna dating from Turner’s first Italian tour in 1819, comparing its colour and handling to identified views such as one of the River Tiber and Ponte Molle from the Naples: Rome. C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16123; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 35);1 alternatively, it could be a colour study for a Campagna view to complement various finished watercolours of Italian subjects made in the early 1820s.2
Ian Warrell has compared the colouring with three wash lay-ins of bright skies over barely indicated, pale landscapes (Tate D17180, D40303, D40304; Turner Bequest CXCVI P 1, 2, 3), which he suggests as predating the 1819 tour, ‘as even before this date his palette had begun to lighten’.3 Eric Shanes has tentatively offered Yorkshire as an alternative subject, without further comment or indication of a possible date.4 While the remarks in relation to the Italian tour in particular are noted here, in the absence of clear landmarks in the composition and given the lack of a watermark the sheet has been left for the present in the context of generic landscapes; compare Tate D25188 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 66) in particular.
See Wilton 1975, p.53 and Wilton 1983, p.221; see also Shanes 1997, p.98.
Wilton 1983, p.223; see Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.383 nos.718–725.
Warrell 2002, p.191.
See Shanes 1997, p.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘62’ at centre, ascending vertically; inscribed by John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 93 P | O’ bottom right; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII 126’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 126’ towards bottom left. The surface is somewhat stained.

Matthew Imms
December 2015

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Distant Hills 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-distant-hills-at-dawn-r1183214, accessed 26 May 2024.