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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Windmill and Lock c.1811

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Windmill and Lock circa 1811
Etching printed in brown ink with brown watercolour additions 178 x 258 mm on paper 218 x 300 mm, trimmed irregularly; plate-mark 218 x 290 mm
Inscribed in pencil ‘JH’ bottom right, and ‘27’ bottom left
Blind-stamped with collectors’ marks ‘WS’ [in horizontal oval], and ‘W·G·[R]’ [in oblong cartouche] bottom right (inside plate-mark)
Presented by W.G. Rawlinson 1913
William Say
John Heugh, sold Christie’s, London, April 1878
Francis Stevenson
William George Rawlinson by 1906
Etching and mezzotint by Turner and William Say, untitled, published Turner, 1 June 1811
Turner’s Liber Studiorum design is taken from his painting Grand Junction Canal at Southall Mill, exhibited at his gallery in 1810 (currently untraced).1 The present sheet is an impression of Turner’s outline etching, with washes added by him as a guide for William Say’s mezzotinting (that Say retained it subsequently is shown by his blind-stamp below the image). No freehand wash drawing of the usual Liber type is known, and Turner may have worked directly from the painting, which was based in turn on slight studies of a windmill, lock and bridge in the Windmill and Lock sketchbook (Tate D08053, D08055, D08056; Turner Bequest CXIV 71a, 72a–73), supposed to have been made between Brentford and Hanwell, to the west of London.
Turner’s early biographer Thornbury reported that Turner recorded the scene one night, returning from visiting his friend the Rev. H.S. Trimmer at Heston,2 about ten miles from central London – and not far west of Isleworth, where Turner had lived by the Thames in 1805. Rawlinson was informed that the mill had been near the site of a later asylum in Hanwell,3 the site of which is now occupied by St Bernard’s Wing, Ealing Hospital, between the Uxbridge Road to the north and the Grand Union Canal and Osterley Park to the south. There are several locks along this stretch, and Windmill Lane crosses the canal at Windmill Bridge a little to the west.
In a lengthy comparison with the windmill in The Coast of Brittany, near Doll (engraved 1836; see Tate impressions, T05647, T05648) by Turner’s contemporary Clarkson Stanfield, Ruskin criticised Stanfield’s picturesque approach – apparently uncomprehending of the mechanism and functionality of a windmill – as against Turner’s realism in his Liber composition, ‘though none of these elements of form are pleasant ones in themselves’. Typically, he read it as ‘a dim type of all melancholy human labour ... catching the free winds, and setting them to turn grindstones. ... Turner has no joy in his mill. It shall be dark against the sky, yet proud, and on the hill-top; not ashamed of its labour’.4 The subject of a silhouetted windmill may have been partly influenced by the painting The Mill by (or after) Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), exhibited at the British Institution in London as recently as 1806, to which Turner referred in his notes and lectures5 (National Gallery of Art, Washington).
The Grand Junction Canal (later part of the Grand Union Canal) was begun in 1793 as a link from London to existing canals passing through the Midlands, and the Paddington Arm and basin had opened in 1801.6 Despite the ‘Pastoral’ classification of the subsequent Liber print, Gillian Forrester has drawn attention to Turner’s emphasis on the canal in his title for the original oil, and suggests a positive intention (pace Ruskin) of celebrating British economic progress, possibly as a pendant to the Liber design London from Greenwich (for drawing see Tate D08131; Turner Bequest CXVII D);7 however, Stopford Brooke observed: ‘There is only one touch of active work in the whole drawing, where the two men heave round the lever of the lock-gates, and it is there to deepen by a single sharp contrast the quiet of the whole.’8
The published plate was untitled, though lettered ‘From a Picture in the Possession of I.M.W. Turner R.A.’; the present title is the customary one established by early scholars and collectors of the Liber, and codified in print in 1872.9 The composition is recorded, as ‘6[:] 1 Windmill & Junction’, in the Liber Notes (2) sketchbook (Tate D12157; Turner Bequest CLIV (a) 24), in a draft schedule of the first ten parts of the Liber (D12156–D12158; CLIV (a) 23a–24a)10 dated by Finberg and Gillian Forrester to before the middle of 1808,11 which would suggest that the painting or Turner’s conception of it must date from some two years before its first exhibition (the sketchbook from which it was derived is watermarked 1808) – unless the inferred dating of Turner’s list is incorrect (see general Liber introduction). It also appears later in the sketchbook, as ‘13 Says Mill’, in a list of published and unpublished ‘Pastoral’ subjects (Tate D12160; Turner Bequest CLIV (a) 25a).12
The Liber Studiorum etching and mezzotint engraving, etched by Turner and engraved by William Say, bears the publication date 1 June 1811 and was issued to subscribers in part 6 (Rawlinson/Finberg nos.27–31;13 see also Tate D08132, D08133, D08134, D08135; Turner Bequest CXVII E, F, G, H). Tate holds impressions of the preliminary outline etching (Tate A00964) and the published engraving (A00965). It is one of fourteen published Liber subjects in Turner’s ‘Pastoral’ category (see also Tate D08102, D08111, D08116, D08121, D08127, D08136, D08140, D08145, D08151, D08158, D08167; Turner Bequest CXVI A, J, O, T, Z, CXVII I, M, Q, W, CXVIII D, M).
Between 1858 and 1865, Thomas Lupton etched and engraved a facsimile of the print in as one of an unpublished series for the London dealer Colnaghi14 (see general Liber introduction).
The present work was retained by its engraver, William Say, and is blind-stamped with his initials.15 Later it was owned by John Heugh, who sold it at Christie’s, London, in April 1878, 16 and by Francis Stevenson.17 It was in W.G. Rawlinson’s possession by 1906,18 and is blind-stamped with his initials.19
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.72–3 no.101, pl.108 (colour); Martin Butlin, ‘Lost, stolen and destroyed works’, in Evelyn Joll, Butlin and Luke Herrmann eds., The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.178, as stolen in 1991.
Cited in Butlin and Joll 1984, p.72.
Rawlinson 1878, p.61.
Cook and Wedderburn VI 1904, pp.17, 18, 19.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.73.
‘The Grand Junction Canal’, London Canal Museum, accessed 10 April 2006, http://www.canalmuseum.org.uk/history/grandjun.htm.
Forrester 1996, pp.77–8.
Brooke 1885, p.91.
[J.E. Taylor and Henry Vaughan], Exhibition Illustrative of Turner’s Liber Studiorum, Containing Choice Impressions of the First States, Etchings, Touched Proofs, together with the Unpublished Plates, and a Few Original Drawings for the Work, exhibition catalogue, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London 1872, p.27 no.27.
Forrester 1996, pp.160–1 (transcribed).
Finberg 1924, p.xliii; Forrester 1996, pp.13–14.
Forrester 1996, p.161 (transcribed).
Rawlinson 1878, pp.59–68; 1906, pp.69–79; Finberg 1924, pp.105–24.
Ibid.: 1878, p.197; 1906, p.232; Finberg 1924, p.108.
Rawlinson 1906, p.6 collector’s mark no.2; Frits Lugt, Les Marques de collections de dessins & d’estampes ..., Amsterdam 1921, p.500 no.2651, reproduced.
Rawlinson 1878, p.59.
D[ugald] S[utherland] MacColl, National Gallery, Millbank: Catalogue: Turner Collection, London 1920, p.42.
Rawlinson 1906, pp.69–70.
Rawlinson 1906, p.6 collector’s mark no.8, reproduced; Lugt 1921, p.494 no.2624, reproduced.
Technical notes:
Turner added warm brown washes to his etched outline; as elsewhere in the Liber, he had left the sky free of etching. The sun was reserved or possibly stopped out; the wash for that part of sky is very pale. There are darker washes over the heavily-etched lock gates and the bottom left of the composition in general. Isolated scratching-out was used on the horse’s mane, brickwork, leaves, figures and bridge, and the rippling reflections between the gates.
Blank, save for inscriptions.
Inscribed in pencil ‘53’ centre, ‘JHH’ bottom left, ‘R. 27’bottom centre, and ‘N.02941’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘[crown] | N•G 2941’ bottom left

Matthew Imms
August 2008

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Windmill and Lock c.1811’, catalogue entry, August 2008, 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/windmill-and-lock-r1131734, accessed 19 June 2024.