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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Large Farnley sketchbook c.1816

Turner Bequest CXXVIII
Sketchbook, bound in pale green boards with dark green leather spine and corners
Forty-one leaves, mainly of white wove paper
Approximate page size, 285 x 460 mm
Watermarked ‘J WHATMAN 1801’
Stamped in black, presumably by Turner, ‘J M W T’, at the centre of the cover, and stamped in black ‘CXXVIII’ at the centre of the top edge
Numbered ‘67’ in the Turner Bequest Schedule and signed by the Executors John Prescott Knight ‘JPK’ and Charles Lock Eastlake ‘C.L.E.’ on folio 1 verso (D09017)
Inscribed in pencil by Arthur Mayger Hind ‘AMH’ and ‘CXXVIII – Large Farnley Sketchbook | Rebound 1935 | The old material of cover made up | AMH’ on a label attached to the present front cover
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This particularly large, landscape-format sketchbook was clearly intended for drawings of some consequence although in the event Turner left the majority of pages blank. The drawings he did are exceptionally careful, controlled and detailed. He used the book exclusively in Yorkshire, and but two drawings of Hackfall, folios 37 and 38 (D09053, D09054) record subjects near Farnley Hall, the home of his patron, Walter Fawkes.1 Even given the time and care that Turner invested in his drawings in this book, it is noteworthy what a high proportion of them (eight of the ten) formed the bases for studio works. Of these seven were finished and sold, and apart from one based on folio 38 (D09054) whose original owner is not clear, these were divided equally between Walter Fawkes and Sir William Pilkington of Stanley Chevet, near Wakefield.
The sketchbook has been variously dated by Turner scholars: to 1812 by Finberg;2 1814–15 by David Hill, Stanley Warburton and Mary Tussey;3 and 1816 by the present writer independently,4 followed by Anthony Bailey.5 The evidence is, however, some way short of conclusive, relying on the relationships to be inferred between sketches and finished watercolours which are themselves undated by the artist and datable largely on stylistic grounds. Perhaps the most significant indication is the relationship of the two sketches of Hackfall to others of the same site in the Yorkshire 1 and Yorkshire 3 sketchbooks (Tate D10943–D10946; Turner Bequest CXLIV 40a–43 and Tate D11387–D11394; Turner Bequest CXLVI 11a–16) which can confidently be dated to 1816. There is no certain proof that the sketches were made on the same occasion, but those in the present book do appear to be the culmination of the exploration of the site represented in the other sketchbooks, and both formed the basis of finished watercolours.6 The watercolours are close in stylistic terms to the twenty watercolours certainly made after 1816 to be engraved for Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s projected General History of the County of York.7
Another strong indication of a date of 1816 is the relationship of folio 39 (D09055) to a gouache, The Valley of the Washburn and Leathley Church (private collection),8 which belongs to a group made for Walter Fawkes and apparently begun in 1816.9
There are numerous other relations with finished watercolours, but none point so directly to any date. Folio 41 (D09057) is the basis of On the Washburn, under Folly Hall (British Museum, London)10 painted for Sir William Pilkington. This, too, is undated but conforms in style and spirit to many of the watercolours made for Whitaker’s Yorkshire project after 1816. Folio 8 (D09024) is the basis of Grouse Shooting, Beamsley Beacon (Wallace Collection, London)11 also painted for Pilkington. This is traditionally said to be a pair to another ex-Pilkington watercolour, Woodcock Shooting on the Chevin (also Wallace Collection),12 which is dated 1813. There is no certain evidence that the two watercolours are contemporary. Indeed the fact that the sketches are in quite different books – that for Woodcock Shooting being in the eponymous Woodcock Shooting sketchbook (Tate D09123; Turner Bequest CXXIX 47) – might argue against it, but the hint of a date for the sketch therefore of around 1812, appears to have been the basis of Finberg’s line of thinking in 1909. Folio 10 (D09026) is the origin of the watercolour Shooting Party on the Moors, 12th August (private collection)13 painted for Fawkes, which is otherwise undated,14 and folio 40 (D09056) is related to a ‘colour-beginning’ (Tate D17177; Turner Bequest CXCVI M) and a finished watercolour of Farnley Hall from above Otley (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), also painted for Fawkes.15 On stylistic grounds there is a very strong case for dating that watercolour no earlier than 1816.
On the balance, therefore, the evidence inclines to the date of 1816 for the sketchbook proposed in this catalogue.
See James Hamilton, ‘Fawkes, Walter Ramsden (1769–1825)’, in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, pp.103–5.
Finberg 1909, p.360; 1912, p.5.
Hill, Warburton and Tussey 1980, p.38 no.46.
Hill 1988, p.16.
Bailey 1997, p.213.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.361 no.536 and another (not listed by Wilton).
The most detailed account of this series and the tour of 1816 is David Hill, In Turner’s Footsteps: Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England, London 1984.
Wilton 1979, p.372 no.627, Sotheby’s sale, London, 4 December 2008 no.147.
See K.Lynch and D.Hill, ‘Turner runs Riot: A Newly Discovered Reminiscence of Turner’, Turner Society News, No.96, March 2004, p.12, note19, 20.
Wilton 1979, p.361 no.538.
Ibid., p.361 no.535.
Ibid., p.361 no.534.
Ibid., pp.370–1 no.610.
The present writer has dated this to 1816, but only on the basis that the date of the present sketchbook tends to that year.
Wilton 1979 p.371 no.613.

David Hill
October 2009

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How to cite

David Hill, ‘Large Farnley sketchbook c.1816’, sketchbook, October 2009, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/large-farnley-sketchbook-r1146735, accessed 22 May 2024.