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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Trees beside Water, with a Castle in the Distance c.1820-40

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Trees beside Water, with a Castle in the Distance c.1820–40
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 284
Watercolour on paper, 178 x 242 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed in red ink ‘284’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 284’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Of this slight but evocative scene, with subtle ripples as a counterpoint to the dry vertical strokes as texture to the trees, Gerald Wilkinson has remarked: ‘Turner frequently explored in sketches the theme of a leaf-shadowed patch of water, presumably on a river. As a fisherman he would appreciate such places’.1 He gives A Silent Pool, a monochrome composition of about 1824 associated with the Liber Studiorum (Tate D08108; Turner Bequest CXVI G), as another example.2
Wilkinson observed that the ‘addition of a castle was perhaps an attempt to give currency to the rather shapeless, but valid, idea.’3 Eric Shanes has compared the present study with a ‘colour beginning’ in a private collection,4 traditionally described a view of Barnard Castle in County Durham,5 and associated with the untraced watercolour of about 1825 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),6 engraved in 1827 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04517–T04518).
See also variations on the trees by water theme in the ‘Lowland and River Colour Studies c.1820–40’ section, and Tate D25345 and D25360 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 223, 238) in the present grouping.
Wilkinson 1975, p.104.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.404 no.890, reproduced.
See Shanes 1997, p.93.
Wlton 1979, p.392 no.793, reproduced.
Blank; a small abrasion near the centre may be a manufacturing fault. It is barely noticeable on the recto.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Trees beside Water, with a Castle in the Distance c.1820–40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 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-trees-beside-water-with-a-castle-in-the-distance-r1184460, accessed 23 May 2024.