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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Hall Beck Gill, near Farnley Hall, Looking West c.1816

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Hall Beck Gill, near Farnley Hall, Looking West c.1816
Turner Bequest CXCVI O
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 280 x 394 mm
Stamped in black ‘CXCVI – O’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This atmospheric colour study is directly comparable to a detailed, annotated pencil drawing made in about 1816 in the Large Farnley sketchbook (Tate D09023; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 7); as discussed in the technical notes below, the present sheet was perhaps originally the preceding page.
In his entry for D09023, David Hill identifies the elemental scene as Hall Beck Gill, looking west, and notes it as ‘the first of a sequence of four apparently recording an expedition from Walter Fawkes’s seat, Farnley Hall, culminating on [Tate D09026; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 10] with a shooting party in a marquee on the moors.’ He notes that the view is ‘west towards the head of Hall Beck Gill roughly along the line of the present road from Harrogate to Bolton Abbey, with the prominent crag of the Dovestone to the right’, some five miles north-west of Farnley Hall, on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As Hill explains, the valley had previously been confused by Turner scholars with nearby Kex Gill, which led the present author to suggest the adjacent Beamsley Beacon as the likely subject of the present work1 prior to Hill’s entries in the present catalogue. For numerous other drawings of what seems to have been a regular haunt during Turner’s visits to Fawkes at Farnley (see Hill’s section Introduction), see under D09023.
The pony and figures evident on the foreground slopes of the Large Farnley drawing are not transferred here. The sheet is very similar in size to watercolours of shooting parties in the neighbourhood of Farnley which Turner painted for Fawkes’s relative, the amateur artist and collector Sir William Pilkington (1775–1850):2 Woodcock Shooting on Otley Chevin, dated 1813, and Grouse Shooting on Beamsley Beacon, perhaps of 1816 (Wallace Collection, London).3 Another finished watercolour on the same scale, Shooting Party on the Moors, 12th August (private collection),4 relating to Tate D09026 (Turner Bequest CXXVIII 10, as mentioned above) was made for Fawkes around this time, so the present study perhaps represented the potential for a companion piece for either patron.
Compare the less developed moorland colour study, Tate D25236 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 114).
See Imms 2008, p.82, and Imms 2009, p.76.
See Terry Riggs, ‘Pilkington, Sir William’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.229.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.361 nos.534 and 535 respectively, reproduced.
Ibid., pp.370–71 no.610, reproduced.
Technical notes:
In his entry for folio 6 verso of the Large Farnley sketchbook (D41389), David Hill noted the presence of watercolour splashes near the gutter, ‘evidently carried over from a watercolour painted on some former opposite page. The present opposite page, folio 7 (D09023), has a pencil drawing with no watercolour at all, so it seems that at least one page is missing between the present folios 6 verso and 7 recto.’
Close examination of the present sheet side by side with the book suggests that this is the missing page, as the grey and brown watercolour tests Hill mentions correspond with the colours at relevant points of this study. There is also a narrow strip of grey watercolour along the top edge of the Hall Beck Gill drawing on Large Farnley’s folio 7 recto (D09023, as already mentioned), probably carried over inadvertently when Turner washed in the sky here.
The height of this sheet, at 280 mm, is about 5 mm less than that of those remaining in the book (285 mm), and the top edge appears to have been trimmed by hand, using a straight edge; the horizontal measurement is some 66 mm less than that of the intact pages (460 mm). The left-hand edge here is neat but slightly irregular, suggesting that it was this side that was trimmed when the page was extracted, perhaps to eliminate other colour tests or a raggedly painted edge and focus the composition, making it uniform with the finished watercolours of about 1816 for Pilkington and Fawkes discussed above. The possibility that they also began as pages in the Large Farnley sketchbook would require further research and comparison.
Blank; there is a large patch of what appears to be the same ochre paint used on the recto at the top edge towards the right; it does not show through to the recto.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Hall Beck Gill, near Farnley Hall, Looking West c.1816 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-hall-beck-gill-near-farnley-hall-looking-west-r1183702, accessed 16 January 2022.