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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Scenes on the River Medway, at Chatham c.1821

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 21 Verso:
Scenes on the River Medway, at Chatham c.1821
D17401
Turner Bequest CXCIX 21a
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 190 mm
Partial watermark ‘nard | 20’
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘[?V...]’ towards top right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This and folio 22 recto (D17402) present a double-page spread of studies made at Chatham on the River Medway, as identified by Finberg.1 Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the present sheet is occupied with densely packed studies.
In the topmost sketch Turner seems to look in a north-easterly direction, capturing the tower of the Royal Dockyard Church at left and gently sloping topography beyond and to the right, topped with buildings and a bridge at the furthest remit of the page which might together comprise a compressed view of Fort Amherst. Directly below, a scene shows the built-up prospect of Chatham at far right, with light craft on the placid water of the river at left, in the middle of the page.
Across the centre of the sheet, a light and delicate sketch shows a windmill on the horizon at right, towards Rochester, with more buildings on the hillside at left, probably in this case Fort Pitt. Beneath this, various shards of compositions promote a sporadic impression of the topography and architecture at Chatham. This includes the distinctive old church of St Mary at left, and repetition of the bridge featured higher up the page once again towards bottom right, presumably to describe a variant view of Fort Amherst, taken from closer quarters. The drawings along the bottom right edge of the sheet describe buildings and craft observed along the harbour front, the zigzag of roofing reminiscent of ship building sheds captured in various sketches of Chatham in this book. For a comprehensive list of pages which describe this portion of the River Medway, see the entry for folio 22 recto (D17402). For more information about St Mary’s church, and a list folios in the present sketchbook upon which it appears, see the entry for folio 51 recto (D17450).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.608.

How to cite

Maud Whatley, ‘Scenes on the River Medway, at Chatham c.1821 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-scenes-on-the-river-medway-at-chatham-r1184678, accessed 27 January 2022.