J.M.W. Turner, Vale of Ashburnham, a watercolour

Sussex, England, AD 1816

John ('Mad Jack') Fuller, the eccentric MP for Sussex, 1801-12, commissioned Turner to make a series of watercolours to be engraved and published as a record of the county. Turner painted thirteen finished watercolours of Fuller's house Rosehill, and the area around it, of which this is one. Engravings were made from eight of these, but only six of the engravings were published, in Part 1 of Views in Sussex (1820). For the cover of the volume, Turner made a rare attempt at etching a whole plate, composing an emblematic design incorporating a crown and armour symbolizing the Saxon defeat at the Battle of Hastings (1066). Part 2 of Views was never completed. Although this venture does not seem to have been a financial success, many prints were made from Turner's watercolours, and the British Museum owns examples of almost all of them, including the 71 prints in Turner's Liber Studiorum ('The Book of Studies', 1807-1819), modelled on Claude Lorrain's Liber Veritatis.

The watercolour shows a broad vista, very much in the manner of Claude, with the landscape receding into a soft blue distance. Martello towers line the coastline, while in the middle distance Ashburnham Place, with its park designed by 'Capability' Brown, provides a focus for the activity taking place on the estate. The foreground detail is taken directly from the sketch Turner made on the spot (Tate Gallery, Turner Bequest CXXXVII, 68v-69).

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More information


K.D. Kriz, The idea of the English landsc (Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997)

J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Height: 380.000 mm
Width: 564.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1910-2-12-272


Bequeathed by George Salting


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