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Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775–1851, British
On the Washburn
ca. 1815
Watercolor, graphite and scratching out on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 11 1/4 x 18 inches (28.6 x 45.7 cm)

Inscribed in graphite, verso, lower right: "D"

Watermark: J. Whatman 1804

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
banks | landscape | river | rocks (landforms) | trees
Associated Places:
England | Europe | North Yorkshire | United Kingdom | Washburn
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.
Curatorial Comment:
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Turner first visited Yorkshire in 1797. The initial impetus for the trip seems to have been the commission by his patron Edward Lascelles for a series of views of Harewood, the estate situated between Leeds and Harrogate; Turner also made an extensive and meticulously planned sketching tour of the north of England and Scottish borders, filling his sketchbooks with drawings to which he was to refer throughout his career. Around this time Turner met the Yorkshire landowner, politician, and collector Walter Ramsden Fawkes, and the two men became close friends. Turner first visited Fawkes’s estate, Farnley Hall, in 1808; a popular houseguest, he returned almost every year until Fawkes’s death in 1825, and both the estate and the family came to have a deep personal significance for him. Fawkes was one of Turner’s most active patrons, acquiring seven oils and more than two hundred watercolors, many of them commissions; this outstanding collection is now mostly dispersed, and several of Fawkes's Turners are now owned by the Center. A keen natural historian, Fawkes commissioned Turner to contribute watercolors to his “Ornithological Collection”, which consisted of five volumes of drawings of birds and their eggs. Turner also made a group of watercolors recording the interiors and exteriors of Farnley Hall and chronicling everyday activities on the estate. These delightful drawings provide a vivid and intimate portrait of Farnley’s domestic life, as well as a valuable record of Fawkes’s installation of his collection. An inveterate angler, Turner spent many pleasurable hours while at Farnley on the Washburn river, waiting for a catch and meditating on the landscape. This vivid drawing is a study for a finished watercolor, which is also in the Center's collection (Wilton, “Turner”, 1979, no. 540). The present sheet originally belonged to the “Large Farnley Sketchbook” (Tate, London) and was acquired by John Edward Taylor, who began to collect Turner's watercolors in the 1860s and who had a taste, radical at that time, for the artist's sketches.
--Gillian Forrester,2007-01
Exhibition History:
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English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17)

Presences of Nature - British Landscape 1780-1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-10 - 1983-02)

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27)

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John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 283, no. 87, pl. 87, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Ian Warrell, Turner's sketchbooks, Tate Publishing, London, 2014, p. 75, NJ18.T85 W378 2014 (YCBA)

Andrew Wilton, The life and work of J.M.W. Turner, Academy Editions, London, 1979, p. 361, No. 539, NJ18 T85 +W577 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

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