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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Two Views of a River Valley with Distant Hills c.1820-40

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Two Views of a River Valley with Distant Hills c.1820–40
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 94
Pencil on paper, 138 x 377 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘[?Grass]’ towards bottom right
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed in red ink ‘94’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCCXLIV 94’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCCXLIV <...>’ top left, upside down
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
There are two similar valley views here, side by side but inverted relative to each other. Finberg’s brief 1909 Inventory descriptions of the subjects of the various drawings on this folded sheet (see the technical notes below) seems to have led to confusion when the works came to be stamped with corresponding Turner Bequest numbers, since either here could be the single ‘River, with distant hills’ he notes.1 That on the right is numbered ‘94’ in red ink and stamped accordingly, whereas the one on the left has its own ‘CCCXLIV’ stamp, but the suffix has been scratched out. As this minor discrepancy is effectively insoluble, the present entry takes account of measurements previously assigned by Tate conservators in relation to the imaged section of the sheet.
There are six sketches on the overall sheet, showing the landscape of a broad river valley with scattered buildings and distant hills, in the vicinity of a distinctive medieval church (see Tate D34449, D34452, D34453; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 92, 95, 96). The setting is unidentified but may be in the North of England or Lowland Scotland.
Finberg placed the sheet somewhat arbitrarily in a large ‘Miscellaneous: black and white’ grouping dated between about 1830 and 1841.2 It was presumably drawn directly during an unidentified tour, and is placed in the present section and given the widest date range assigned to other works here pending further investigation, although it could well be earlier.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.1116.
Technical notes:
D34449–D34453 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 92–96) share a single sheet, some 550 x 384 mm overall, which was folded into eighths. Each of the five (with the present one comprising two sketches as noted above) occupies two eighths in varying orientations except D34452, which is half the area. D34453 is on the other side, on the verso of D34450. Each is stamped and numbered individually.
The present quarter of the sheet has a vertical central fold; the right-hand edge tapers in significantly towards the bottom corner.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Two Views of a River Valley with Distant Hills 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-two-views-of-a-river-valley-with-distant-hills-r1184467, accessed 20 April 2024.