Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Shipping at the Mouth of the Thames’ c.1806–7
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Shipping at the Mouth of the Thames c.1806–7 . Tate

Room 5 in Turner Collection

Turner's Britain

The Quiet Ruin, Cattle in Water; A Sketch, Evening

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Quiet Ruin, Cattle in Water; A Sketch, Evening  ?exhibited 1809

Turner’s early career coincided with the long wars between Britain and France, particularly the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815). Travel to the rest of Europe was almost impossible. Artists turned their attention to the British landscape and architectural heritage. Paintings such as this, of quiet rural British scenes, provided a focus for patriotic feeling.
Like other artists, Turner drew on the newly developed idea of the ‘picturesque’. This emphasised the pleasure of roughness and variety in nature or old buildings. Pictures of ruins were popular.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

1/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Sketch of a Bank, with Gipsies

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Sketch of a Bank, with Gipsies  ? exhibited 1809

Turner depicts a rough and untidy landscape in this small and sketchy painting. Turner was interested in the 'picturesque'. This was an artistic idea that was fashionable at the time. Picturesque paintings showed landscapes that were beautiful but with some elements of wildness. This picture was probably first shown in Turner's Gallery in 1809. Turner’s focus is on light and contrast. The figures of the people are barely visible in the black shadows. The smoke from their fire can just be made out. The word ‘Gipsies’ used in the title is now widely acknowledged as an offensive term for Roma people. Turner probably included them to enhance the picturesque atmosphere, drawing on stereotypes of this community as wild and mysterious.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

2/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Cliveden on Thames

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Cliveden on Thames  ?exhibited 1807

Turner’s deliberately imprecise, atmospheric style was not universally admired. When fellow artist Benjamin West visited his studio in 1807, it is possible he saw this picture. The older artist reported being ‘disgusted with what he found there; views on the Thames, crude blotches, nothing could be more vicious’.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

3/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Moonlight, a Study at Millbank

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Moonlight, a Study at Millbank  exhibited 1797

Turner painted this work of the Thames at night from a position near that of Tate Britain. It dates from the year after Turner showed his first oil painting at the Royal Academy, also a marine night painting (or nocturne). It was fashionable to show moonlight effects in pictures at this time. They were mostly based on Dutch 17th-century painters like Aert van der Neer, then popular with British collectors. Unlike those highly stylised paintings, here the impression is naturalistic.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

4/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Abingdon

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Abingdon  exhibited 1806?

In this painting Turner shows rural productivity and a landscape rich with history, united by a glowing, diffuse light. A similar combination is used in Ploughing up Turnips, shown to the right. It has been suggested that the two pictures were painted to complement each other.

This painting is probably the view of Dorchester shown at Turner’s Gallery in 1810. However, the spire of St Helen’s Church in the historic market town of Abingdon is visible over the treetops, even though it was in fact two miles away.

Gallery label, September 2004

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

5/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Harvest Home

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Harvest Home  c.1809

This unfinished painting probably depicts a harvest meal on the Earl of Essex's Hertfordshire estate, Cassiobury Park. The smartly dressed black man standing on the left of the composition is George Edward Doney, the Earl’s butler. The picture may have been commissioned by the Earl as a memorial to his much-loved servant, who had recently died. Turner’s drawing for the painting shows he originally planned an outdoor setting. He made notes about depicting ‘men half drunk’ and those waiting to be served looking ‘eager and cunning’.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

6/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Crossing the Brook

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Crossing the Brook  exhibited 1815

Turner developed this painting of the Tamar valley from sketches he made in Devon in 1811 and 1813. His watercolours and drawings of the area were fresh and informal. Here he creates a more self-consciously artful image. This was meant to evoke the 17th-century classical landscapes of French painter Claude Lorrain. The painting was exhibited in the year of the battle of Waterloo. Viewers at the time would have been alert to the patriotic subtext of such an imposing depiction of the British landscape.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

7/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

St Mawes at the Pilchard Season

Joseph Mallord William Turner, St Mawes at the Pilchard Season  exhibited 1812

This scene captures the unloading of the pilchard boats at St Mawes harbour in Cornwall. Pilchard fishing was an important industry for the town. Turner shows the impact of the Napoleonic War on the home front. Napoleon's Continental Blockade meant countries allied with France could not trade with the British. It prevented excess fish caught in British waters being exported to mainland Europe. Fish like these Cornish pilchards were sold on the beach, often as cheap manure.

Gallery label, July 2020

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

License this image

8/8
artworks in Turner's Britain

Art in this room

The Quiet Ruin, Cattle in Water; A Sketch, Evening
Joseph Mallord William Turner The Quiet Ruin, Cattle in Water; A Sketch, Evening ?exhibited 1809
Sketch of a Bank, with Gipsies
Joseph Mallord William Turner Sketch of a Bank, with Gipsies ? exhibited 1809
Cliveden on Thames
Joseph Mallord William Turner Cliveden on Thames ?exhibited 1807
Moonlight, a Study at Millbank
Joseph Mallord William Turner Moonlight, a Study at Millbank exhibited 1797
Abingdon
Joseph Mallord William Turner Abingdon exhibited 1806?
Harvest Home
Joseph Mallord William Turner Harvest Home c.1809
Crossing the Brook
Joseph Mallord William Turner Crossing the Brook exhibited 1815
St Mawes at the Pilchard Season
Joseph Mallord William Turner St Mawes at the Pilchard Season exhibited 1812