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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Inscription ?by Turner: Part of a Letter to 'Walter Fawkes Esqre, Farnley Hall, Otley Yorkshire' c.1816

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Inscription ?by Turner: Part of a Letter to ‘Walter Fawkes Esqre, Farnley Hall, Otley Yorkshire’ c.1816
Ink on lightweight, white wove paper, 187 x 230 mm
Inscribed ?by Turner in grey ink ‘Walter Fawkes Esqre, Farnley Hall, Otley, Yorkshire’
Inscribed in light brown ink ‘10 ½’ (possibly the postage)
Postmarked in brown ink ‘LANGHO[?Y..E] | 321 C’ in a round stamp
An embossed black wax seal has been broken into two parts when the letter opened
Inscribed ?by Turner in grey ink with the postscript to a letter: ‘You must call at Gargrave if you go one day, but not to dinner, will [...]’, left, descending
Inscribed by Turner in a different, brown ink ‘Subject to be done for Mr Fawkes’, bottom right, descending vertically
Inscribed in pencil ‘A’ bottom right
Inscribed in pencil ‘CLIV Y’ top right, running vertically
Although it has in the past been assumed1 that the letter is from Turner to his Yorkshire friend and patron Walter Fawkes, this is not absolutely proven and the postmark poses further complications. Finberg read it as ‘Langholme’ but this is uncertain. There is a Langho near Whalley in Lancashire, visited by Turner at least twice, in the late 1790s and again in 1809. It might be tempting, but also inconclusive, to interpret the postmark as an old spelling of Langhold, where Langold Hall was the seat of another Yorshire patron, Henry Gally Knight, author and classicist, who had supplied a sketch from which Turner painted The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius in the Island of Aegina... exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1816 (the Duke of Northumberland).2 From 31 July 1816, and in November 1817, Turner corresponded with the artist James Holworthy about possible meetings at Langold; subsequent letters anticipate hearing from Holworthy and Knight, in letters to Farnley, about their availability.3 Turner was in the Gargrave area in 1809 and also in 1816.
The ‘subject to be done for Mr Fawkes’ is presumably that of Hall Beck Gill on the recto (D12099; Turner Bequest CLIV A). There is a watercolour study of a different view of Hall Beck Gill (Tate D17179; Turner Bequest CXCVI O), based on a sketch in the Large Farnley sketchbook, Tate D09023; Turner Bequest CXXVIII 7), and another watercolour study (Tate D25492; Turner Bequest CCXLIII 369) based on a sketch in the Devonshire Rivers, No.3, and Wharfedale sketchbook (Tate D09804; Turner Bequest CXXXIV 14), but no finished watercolour is known.

David Hill
June 2009

Revised by David Blayney Brown
April 2013

For example by David Hill, Stanley Warburton and Mary Tussey, Turner in Yorkshire, exhibition catalogue, York 1980.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, New Haven and London, revised ed.1984, pp.98–100 no.134 (pl.139).
John Gage, Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner with an Early Diary and a Memoir by George Jones, Oxford, pp.67–71 nos.65–72.

How to cite

David Hill, ‘Inscription ?by Turner: Part of a Letter to ‘Walter Fawkes Esqre, Farnley Hall, Otley Yorkshire’ c.1816 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2009, revised by David Blayney Brown, April 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-inscription-by-turner-part-of-a-letter-to-walter-fawkes-r1146600, accessed 13 June 2024.