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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 46 Verso:
Scenes on the River Medway, Probably at Chatham c.1821
Turner Bequest CXCIX 46a
Pencil on white wove paper, 190 x 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
With the sketchbook turned vertically, Turner describes four views on this page of the River Medway.1 The location is likely to be in the vicinity of Chatham, a suggestion offered on the basis of the hilltop fort evident in the topmost sketch, perhaps Fort Pitt.
The second drawing focuses again on architectural features of the topography. The bottom two sketches deviate from this theme, demonstrating Turner’s interest in vessels which populate the expanse of water between his position and the opposite bank of the Medway. The bottommost drawing includes at right a detailed and thorough record of a hulk. Consistent with many of Turner’s sketches of similar vessels in this book, the greatest pressure and detail is applied to the bow and stern, although here the hull is sharply elaborated too. Indeed, Gerald Wilkinson reproduces this page to support his comments on Turner’s technique in both this and the Folkestone sketchbook of about 1821–2 (Tate; Turner Bequest CXCVIII): ‘The pencil is hard and the detail remarkably thorough, even for him’.2
For a comprehensive list of studies in this sketchbook which describe Chatham, see the entry for folio 22 recto (D17402).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.609.
Wilkinson 1975, p.22.

How to cite

Maud Whatley, ‘Scenes on the River Medway, Probably 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-probably-at-chatham-r1184721, accessed 03 December 2021.