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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Watercolours and Drawings Related to the 1797 North of England Tour, and Other Subjects 1797–1801

Turner Bequest XXVII U, XXXIII B, S, T, XXXVI A, B, C, D, E, G, H, I, L, M, N, Q, R, S, T, V, W, XLIV C, L B, C, Q, S, T, X, Y, Z, LI A, B, C, D, E, F, LXX R, CXXI H, I
The drawings in this group are studies or finished watercolours developed from ideas gathered on the North of England tour of 1797. Ian Warrell, following Turner scholar David Hill1 asserts that apart from his first visits to the Alps in 1802 and to Italy in 1819, ‘no tour made such an enduring impression on Turners’ art’,2 pointing to the numerous occasions on which he referred to it for subject matter throughout his career. Several of the drawings in this group show him grappling with the experiences he had gathered, and experimenting with a variety of techniques by which to transform them into finished works. See also the related subsection of drawings made at Harewood and Plompton Rocks.
There are slighter items too: a sequence of sixteen pencil drawings, all made on similar paper, includes sketches made on tour at Beverley, Ripon and Wakefield, as well as Oxford, Abingdon and elsewhere (Tate D01098, D01099, D01107, D01108, D01111, D01879, D02358, D02360, D02361, D02365–D02371; Turner Bequest XXXVI D, E, M, N, Q, XLIV C, L Q, S, T, X, Y, Z, LI A, B, C, D). Those subjects not connected with the North of England tour probably date from somewhat later than 1797 (though see note to D01879; Turner Bequest XLIV C). They were listed by Finberg among miscellaneous drawings produced in about 1799–1801, when Turner was working in and around Oxford in connection with the project to make views for the Oxford Almanack; see Tate D00665, D00666, D02240, D02346–D02348, D02351, D02359, D02363, D02364, D08192 and D08219 (Turner Bequest XXVII D, E, XLVIII 5, L E, F, G, J, R, V, W, CXIX E, CXX F) in the section on of this catalogue concerning architectural drawings for commissions in the late 1790s. A pencil drawing, described by Finberg as showing a ‘Landscape, with house and ruins’ measuring 8¼ x 1011/16 inches (210 x 272 mm),3 was apparently lost in the 1928 Tate flood or shortly afterwards, and seems to have been another in common with the series of sixteen.
The diverse nature of these subjects is perhaps less surprising than the fact that, equipped as he was with two substantial sketchbooks in the North of England, Turner nevertheless had recourse to loose scraps of paper for some drawings made in the course of his itinerary. The views at Wakefield and Ripon, for example (D01099, D01111, D01098; Turner Bequest XXXVI D, E, Q), were very likely made while travelling, though not while his horse or vehicle was in motion. He may have kept a bundle of small sheets to hand for easy access in a cramped or crowded coach. Even so, a small sketchbook with hard covers would have provided better support and easier organisation in such circumstances. He was to take up this habit on a more comprehensive scale during his Continental travels of the 1830s. See the views at Brocklesby in the Brocklesby Mausoleum sketchbook (Tate D05159–D05165; Turner Bequest LXXXIII 1–7) and also Tate D08277 (Turner Bequest CXXI U), which are drawings made in connection with his next visit to the north-east, a journey to Lincolnshire in the early autumn of 1798.
See David Hill, Turner in the North: A Tour through Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, the Scottish Borders, the Lake District, Lancashire and Lincolnshire in the Year 1797, New Haven and London 1996.
Ian Warrell, Turner in the North of England, 1797, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1996, p.[5].
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, 1909, vol.I, p.128, L U, as ‘Landscape with house and ruins’, c.1799–1801; it was provisionally given the Tate accession number D02362, since cancelled.

Andrew Wilton
January 2013

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How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Watercolours and Drawings Related to the 1797 North of England Tour, and Other Subjects 1797–1801’, subset, January 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/watercolours-and-drawings-related-to-the-1797-north-of-england-tour-and-other-subjects-r1150259, accessed 08 August 2022.