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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Windsor Castle from Salt Hill ('Sheep-Washing, Windsor') c.1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Windsor Castle from Salt Hill (‘Sheep-Washing, Windsor’) circa 1818
Vaughan Bequest CXVIII Q
Pencil and watercolour on off-white wove drawing paper, 227 x 316 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900
Henry Vaughan by 1878
(see main catalogue entry)
Turner’s drawing, engraved but not published in the Liber Studiorum, shows Windsor Castle from Salt Hill, Slough, a couple of miles to the north. It relates to an 1818 visit to the Fourth of June commemoration at nearby Eton College (see the Skies sketchbook: Tate D12517–D12520; CLVIII 64a–65, 65a–66) with the family of his friend and patron Walter Fawkes, whose sons were then at the school; Mrs Fawkes’s diary notes: ‘Thursday, 4th June. Went to Eton to see the boat-race. Dined and slept at Salt Hill. Little Turner came with us.’1 The immediate source for the Liber design is a rapid but closely-observed pencil study including the sheep and shepherds in the Skies sketchbook (Tate D12513; Turner Bequest CLVIII 62a); there is are similar views, the second apparently populated by sightseers, on preceding pages (D12509, D12511; CLVIII 60a, 61a), and a further study of sheep-washing (D12515; CLVIII 63a).
Turner had made many studies of Windsor (already an established tourist attraction) while living down the Thames at Isleworth in 1805,2 including an oil from Salt Hill of the castle flanked by trees (Tate N02312),3 to which he may have referred for its silhouette; the general similarities in mood and composition in the present drawing to works of more than a decade earlier have been noted.4 A second Windsor sheep subject, derived from a painting of about 1805 and more in line with published ‘EP’ subjects (probably ‘Elevated Pastoral’ – see general Liber introduction), is among the Liber-type drawings which were not engraved (Tate D08185; Turner Bequest CXVIII e). Gillian Forrester has suggested that Turner could have had the two contrasting designs in mind as potential pendants in two categories, with the present, more workaday treatment – the castle only a distant presence – as a Pastoral subject; the unpublished Liber plate of a nearby location, Ploughing, Eton (see Tate D08174; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII T), shows ‘a similar juxtaposition’.5
The composition is recorded, as ‘19 Sheepwashing +’, in a list of published and unpublished ‘Pastoral’ subjects in the Liber Notes (2) sketchbook (Tate D12160; Turner Bequest CLIV (a) 25a); these notes (D12160–D12171; CLIV (a) 25a–31) were apparently made between 1808 and as late as 1818, around the date of the present work.6 It is noted again, as ‘Salthill C Turner’, in a list (now rubbed and difficult to decipher) of Liber works in progress around 1817–18 inside the back cover of the Aesacus and Hesperie sketchbook (Tate D40933; Turner Bequest CLXIX);7 and, as ‘Turner {Salt Hill’, with various other Liber subjects in the Farnley sketchbook (Tate D11998; Turner Bequest CLIII 2a). The latter list was possibly complied during Turner’s visit to Farnley in November 1818 and is headed ‘Liber Studiorum Plates out Jany 1 1819’.8
The etching and mezzotint engraving, etched by Turner and engraved by Charles Turner, was among the unpublished Liber Studiorum prints (Rawlinson/Finberg nos.72–91;9 see also Tate D08170, D08172–D08178, D25451; Turner Bequest CXVIII U, CCLXIII 328, Vaughan Bequest CXVIII P, R, S, T, V, W, X; and Tate N02782, N03631); proofing of the design continued until 1823.10 Tate does not hold any impressions.
In 1920, Frank Short etched and mezzotinted this composition,11 as one of his interpretations of the unpublished Liber plates (Tate T05060;12 see general Liber introduction).
The present work was in Henry Vaughan’s collection by 1878.13
Finberg 1912, p.10; Finberg 1961, pp.252–3.
See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, pp.63–75.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.121 no.177 pl.177 (colour).
See Andrew Wilton, in Wilton and Turner 1990, p.146
Forrester 1996, p.137 and note 10.
Ibid., pp.161–3 (transcribed).
Ibid., p.163 (transcribed).
Ibid., p.160 (transcribed).
Rawlinson 1878, pp.144–69; 1906, pp.169–96; Finberg 1924, pp.287–365.
Finberg 1924, p.298 no.74 (g); Forrester 1996, p.137 note 12.
Hardie 1938, p.55 no.19, reproduced p.[87] pl.IV B.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986 – 88, London 1996, p.74, reproduced.
Rawlinson 1878, p.147.
Technical notes:
The loose pencil sketching was not closely followed with watercolour (in The Elements of Drawing, Ruskin praised the ‘drawing’ of Turner’s subsequent etched outline, for its expressive understanding of foliage and terrain).1 Washes for the castle and other areas were applied to wet paper; final details were put in as wet washes on dry paper. The brushwork is untypically fine, with no scratching-out or washing-out. The effect is more ‘impressionistic’ than earlier Liber drawings. Indian red was worked over with a sepia shade for the two trees to the left, with this sequence reversed for the threes in the right foreground. The combination of these two pigments results in an overall very warm brown colour.2
When Turner came to etch the plate, he tidied up the boundaries of the composition, having anticipated this in the drawing by not extending the trees to the right-hand edge of the sheet, which itself remained untrimmed (most other Liber drawings being cut down to the edges of the design as engraved). In 1890 Frank Short noted that its then owner, Henry Vaughan, ‘has never had it framed, nor exposed in any way to the light, since it came into his possession, and the drawing seems perfectly fresh and with all the original bloom on it.’3
Cook and Wedderburn XV 1904, pp.94–6, with detail of lower left of Liber etching reproduced p.95, fig.20.
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files.
Frank Short in [John Ward] [1890], p.21.
Blank, save for inscriptions.
Inscribed in pencil ‘Q’ centre, and ‘T | 5’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘[crown] | N•G | CXVIII – Q’ bottom centre

Matthew Imms
May 2006

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Windsor Castle from Salt Hill (‘Sheep-Washing, Windsor’) c.1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2006, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-windsor-castle-from-salt-hill-sheep-washing-windsor-r1131776, accessed 23 June 2024.