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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Yorkshire 5 sketchbook 1816

Turner Bequest CXLVIII
Sketchbook, bound in boards covered in mottled red paper, with black leather spine and corners
43 leaves of white wove paper
Approximate page size, 173 x 260 mm
Watermarked ‘J WHATMAN 1815’
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘Yorkshire 5’ on the back cover (D40862)
Finberg noted a label attached to the spine and inscribed by Turner in ink ‘110 Yorkshire’, but this is no longer present
Endorsed by the Executors of the Turner Bequest in ink ‘No.263 | 40 pencil sketches’ and signed by Henry Scott Trimmer ‘H S Trimmer’ and initialled by John Prescott Knight ‘JPK’ and Charles Lock Eastlake ‘C.L.E.’ on folio 1 (D11518)
Stamped in ink ‘CXLVIII’ on front cover, top right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This landscape-format sketchbook is of a large size used only exceptionally by Turner at this stage of his career, and was clearly intended for work to which he attached some importance. In conjunction with two smaller sketchbooks, Yorkshire 2 (D11042–D11371; D40844–D40845; D41443; Turner Bequest CXLV) and Yorkshire 4 (Tate D11442–D11479; D11481–D11517; D40839–D40843; D41497; Turner Bequest CXLVII) it accompanied Turner on a tour of Yorkshire and north Lancashire in the summer of 1816 to collect material for a series of commissioned illustrations for a proposed seven-volume General History of the County of York by Thomas Dunham Whitaker.1 Several of the drawings formed the basis of studio works.
The sketchbook contains some of the most fully developed studies of sites on Turner’s itinerary between 17 July and 11 August 1816 (see detailed notes on dating below). He set out from Farnley Hall, the seat of his Yorkshire patron Walter Fawkes,2 and travelled via Skipton to Browsholme Hall in Lancashire, where he stayed for a week before going to Malham and Gordale where he struck off alone on horseback, in atrociously wet weather, into the Yorkshire Dales. The sketches in this book begin on the lower reaches of the River Ribble, and in the Trough of Bowland near Browsholme, and continue through Gordale, Upper Wharfedale and Wensleydale to Richmond. From there Turner headed north via Rokeby to Teesdale and High Force and Cauldron Snout. The sketches pick up again in the Morecambe Bay area and finish via Lancaster and the Lune Valley.
The sketchbook itself contains no documentary evidence for dating, but may be securely given to 1816 by association with the Yorkshire 2 and Yorkshire 4 sketchbooks. That year, as recorded in the diary of Maria Sophia, the wife of Walter Fawkes,3 the Fawkes party, accompanied by Turner, left Farnley on 17 July and travelled via Skipton to Browsholme Hall. They stayed at Browsholme until 24 July when they left for Malham, and on the next day visited nearby Gordale Scar, before parting from Turner who went off ‘on a sketching tour’. The Yorkshire 2 sketchbook follows every aspect of that itinerary and charts the whole of the subsequent tour. The first sketches in the present book – at Red Scar, Harden, Sawley Abbey and Gordale – document the period recorded by Mrs Fawkes, and the remainder of the sketches echo those in both the Yorkshire 2 and Yorkshire 4 sketchbooks. A letter written by Turner from Richmond in Yorkshire on 31 July 18164 dates the sketches in that area, and from internal indications such as times of day indicated by shadows, the present writer has proposed a day-by-day dating of the sketches up to Turner’s return to Farnley in time for the opening of the shooting season on 12 August.5
The full story of the commission and of the tour is given in Hill 1984.
For Fawkes in general 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, p.103.
Extracts were first published by A,J. Finberg, Turner’s Water-Colours at Farnley Hall, undated [1912]; see also Hill 1984.
John Gage, Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner with an Early Diary and a Memoir by George Jones, Oxford 1980, no.65
Hill 1984.

David Hill
May 2009

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How to cite

David Hill, ‘Yorkshire 5 sketchbook 1816’, sketchbook, May 2009, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/yorkshire-5-sketchbook-r1143657, accessed 19 August 2022.