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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Kingston Bank c.1810-15

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Kingston Bank circa 1810–15
Vaughan Bequest CXVIII W
Watercolour on off-white wove writing paper, 198 x 268 mm
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900
Purchased from Henry Dawe by Charles Stokes by 1848, 15 guineas
Bequeathed by Stokes to Hannah Cooper, 1853
Exchanged 6 October 1854 together with Crowhurst (Tate D08172; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII R) via Thomas Griffith
Henry Vaughan by 1872
(see main catalogue entry)
Turner based the present design, engraved for the Liber Studiorum but not published, on his painting Harvest Dinner, Kingston Bank, exhibited at his gallery in 1809, which remained in his studio (Tate N00491);1 the composition shows the then-rural setting of Kingston upon Thames, to the west of London. He made a fairly close transcription, but may also have referred to the rapid oil sketch for the subject (Tate N02696),2 dated by David Hill to Turner’s residence at Isleworth – a few miles down the Thames to the north – in 1805,3 showing a wagon in the distance which was not included in the finished picture.4 In the painting and oil sketch the standing woman appears to have a bundle over her left arm, and has been assumed to be bringing a meal to the resting workers, but in the drawing she seems to have two pannier-like ‘gleaning pockets’ to collect any remaining corn after the reaping, implying her direct involvement in the harvest.5
There are other variations in the figures; the woman apparently suckling her baby in the painting may now simply be cradling it. The cart over the skyline behind the standing man in the painting is brought closer and made more prominent, and Turner appears to have indicated some of the crop still standing on the slope to the left with rapid vertical strokes, in place of his nondescript handling of the unmodulated hillside in the oil. In general the changes soften the stark ‘emptiness’ of the original, which has been sympathetically described as ‘one of his most unflinching statements about the “natural” peasant life.’6 As well as designing it as an addition to the scenes of rural labour in his Liber Pastoral category generally, Turner could possibly have considered the composition in relation to the 1819 plate Water Cress Gatherers,7 showing another group of Thameside harvesters.
The composition is recorded, as ‘Thames Bank +’, in a list of published and unpublished ‘Pastoral’ subjects in the Liber Notes (2) sketchbook (Tate D12160; Turner Bequest CLIV (a) 25a). The ‘+’ probably indicates that the work had yet to be engraved; these notes (D12160–D12171; CLIV (a) 25a–31) were apparently made between 1808 and as late as 1818.8 It is noted again, as ‘Kingston’, in a list (now rubbed and difficult to decipher) of Liber works in progress around 1817–18 inside the back cover of the Aesacus and Hesperie sketchbook (Tate D40933; Turner Bequest CLXIX);9 and, as ‘Daw ... – plate of Kingston Bank | to get cleaned’, with various other Liber subjects in the Farnley sketchbook (Tate D11998; Turner Bequest CLIII 2a). The latter list was possibly complied during Turner’s visit to Farnley in November 1818 and is headed ‘Liber Studiorum Plates out Jany 1 1819’.10
As Gillian Forrester notes, the related plate has generally been attributed to Turner alone, but since the present drawing was owned by the Liber engraver Henry Dawe, mentioned in relation to it in Turner’s notes as quoted above, he may have had some direct involvement. (The same may apply in the case of the unpublished Moonlight at Sea design; for drawing see Tate D08176; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII V.) Only one contemporary impression is known (Royal Academy of Arts, London, Allen Collection 87A),11 and appears to show a combination of mezzotint and aquatint (the copper plate itself is untraced). Turner may have experimented after Dawe’s initial mezzotint work and taken the biting of the aquatint work too far, resulting in a rough, tonal interpretation lacking in detail, incapable of being further refined and thus abandoned.
For other designs for unpublished Liber Studiorum prints (Rawlinson/Finberg nos.72–91)12 see also Tate D08170–D08176, D08178, D25451; Turner Bequest CXVIII U, Vaughan Bequest CXVIII P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, CCLXIII 328; and Tate N02782, N03631.
In 1896, having abandoned a first version,13 Frank Short etched and mezzotinted this composition,14 as one of his interpretations of the unpublished Liber plates, taking it to the degree of clarity and finish which Turner would usually have aimed for (Tate does not hold any impressions; see general Liber introduction). The second plate was later cut down to show only the left half of the composition, and signed impressions were included in the first 110 of the 510 copies of Martin Hardie’s 1938 catalogue of Short’s Liber prints15 (copy in Tate Library). There are variations from the drawing, since Short was also at pains to examine the original oil, from which he adapted some details.
By 1848, the present work had been bought from Henry Dawe for 15 guineas by Turner’s friend Charles Stokes; he bequeathed it to his niece by Stokes to Hannah Cooper in 1853, 16 but she exchanged it the following year together with Crowhurst (Tate D08172; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII R) through Turner’s dealer Thomas Griffith.17 It was in Henry Vaughan’s collection by 1872.18
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.66–7 no.90, pl.100.
Ibid., p.117, pl.160.
David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, pp.96, 143.
Forrester 1996, p.153.
Chumbley and Warrell 1989, p.39.
Hill 1993, p.143.
Rawlinson 1878, pp.126–7 no.62; 1906, p.148 no.62; Finberg 1924, pp.245–8 no.62.
Forrester 1996, pp.161–3 (transcribed).
Ibid., p.163 (transcribed).
Ibid., p.160 (transcribed).
Ibid., p.153 no.87ii, reproduced.
Rawlinson 1878, pp.144–69; 1906, pp.169–96; Finberg 1924, pp.287–365.
Hardie 1938, pp.66–7 no.32.
Ibid., p.67 no.33, reproduced p.[107] pls.XI A and B.
Ibid., bound opposite p.11.
Forrester 1996, p.153; ‘Cooper Notebooks’, vol.II, p.6 no.6 in Krause 1997, p.267
Forrester 1996, pp.139, 153; but see Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, p.225, listing Crowhurst, but with the second drawing as the unengraved Liber design Sion House, Isleworth (British Museum, London: see Rawlinson 1878, p.173 no.95).
[Taylor and Vaughan] 1872, pp.50, [54].
Technical notes:
There is no pencil work, and the paper was not washed initially. Washes, brushwork and working with the fingers (the latter evident at the lower left) were followed by some scratching- and washing-out; the bank was reserved, with details brushed on later. Some of the washes are so underbound that they are cracked and flaking; none is medium-rich. The overall colour is a very warm brown with another brown present, comprising both Indian red and brown ochre pigments.1 There is a nick at the centre of the top edge, possibly caused by a pin.
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files, with slides of overall view.
Blank, save for inscriptions.
Inscribed in pencil ‘W 87’ top centre, upside down ?by Turner ‘[?Kingston Bank ...] Daw–’ centre, and ‘2’ centre, descending vertically
Stamped in black ‘[crown] | N•G | CXVIII – W’ bottom left
Stamped with Charles Stokes’s collector’s mark in black [?chess piece or crowned helmet within vertical oval]1 bottom right
There are splashes of black ink or pigment at the lower centre.

Matthew Imms
May 2006

Frits Lugt, Les Marques de collections de dessins & d’estampes ..., Amsterdam 1921, p.515 no.2758, reproduced.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Kingston Bank c.1810–15 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2006, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-kingston-bank-r1131785, accessed 23 June 2024.