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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Rochester, with a Bend of the River Medway c.1821-2

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 59 Recto:
Rochester, with a Bend of the River Medway c.1821–2
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 59
Pencil on white wove paper, 113 x 187 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘59’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXCVIII – 59’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
As identified by Finberg, this and the facing page on folio 58 verso (D17303) describe a view of Rochester and an adjacent bend in the River Medway.1 This is a theme addressed almost from the very beginning of the present sketchbook, initiated on folio 6 verso (D17217). For a full list of additional studies of Rochester in the present sketchbook, see the entry for that page.
This half of the composition is predominantly concerned with the architecture of Rochester, characterised by its imposing castle, distinctive bridge, and cathedral. All of these famous landmarks are visible on the leftmost side of the drawing, the bridge beginning towards the centre of the page and straddling the River Medway directly in front of the tall, stout form of the castle. Further left, towards the gutter and slightly more set back from the riverbank, the towering structure of the cathedral is lightly delineated.
In the foreground, directly in front of Turner as he records this view, a cluster of houses rises from the landscape, a formation repeated again by a number of hatched dwellings on the bank of the river, which face the landmarks on the opposite side.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.605.

How to cite

Maud Whatley, ‘Rochester, with a Bend of the River Medway c.1821–2 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, February 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-rochester-with-a-bend-of-the-river-medway-r1184578, accessed 28 February 2021.