- Museum number
Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire; view looking down on to level meadows through trees on hillside, river meandering through plain, woods to left and right and scattered trees in centre with ruins to right. 1809
Watercolour with scratching out
- Production date
Height: 278 millimetres
Width: 395 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This watercolour is based on a graphite drawing in the Turner Bequest which belongs to a group of ten sheets of similar size probably originally forming part of the same soft-covered roll sketchbook (TB CLIV). Dated 1816 or later by Finberg, David Hill has demonstrated that they were drawn on Turners first visit to Yorkshire as the guest of Walter Fawkes, at Farnley Hall, in 1808. A list of pictures inside the cover of the Greenwich sketchbook (TB CII), recorded as being paid for on 20 February 1809, includes 9 Bolton which appears to refer to this work; although Fawkes name is not mentioned, other works in the same list were definitely acquired by him around this time.
The drawings now grouped in TB CLIV suggest an excursion from Farnley Hall along the River Wharf to Bolton Abbey and further on to Barden Tower. Turner approached the Abbey from the north, the direction of the view in this watercolour; apart from a slight sketch in the Tweed and Lakes sketchbook of 1797 (TBXXXV), this was his first sight of one of the most celebrated monuments of the picturesque in England. In addition to the composition which formed the basis for this watercolour (TB CLIV-S), he made two other sketches from the same direction, (TB CLIV-R and T), evidently seeking an ideal combination of monument and setting with a view to future paintings. Turner drew the view again on a later visit, recorded in the Devonshire rivers and Wharfdale no. 3 sketchbook, dated 1811 by its watermark, but used c. 1812-15 (David Hill dates the Bolton drawing 1815; 'Turner in Yorkshire',1980, p. 25-6).
Another view of the abbey, this time from the south, also once in the collection of Walter Fawkes, was presumably designed as a pair to 1910-2-12-282; it is now in the University of Liverpool Art Collection (W531). A further view, in which the abbey is again seen from the south, but from a much closer viewpoint, was one of the first of the England and Wales series to appear; the engraving is dated 1 March 1827 (W788, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight; R212).
Bolton Abbey was an Augustinian foundation, built around 1120. Writing about the England and Wales version on the subject, which he then owned, but referring to all Turners views of the Wharf, Ruskin wrote in Modern Painters IV, of those shores of the Wharf, which I believe [Turner] could never revisit without tears; nay, which for all the latter part of his life, he could never even speak of, but his voice faltered. Certainly, in this earlier view, Turner produced one of his most majestic and Claudean compositions in watercolour, suggesting it conformed to the ideal landscapes imagined by the artist he most revered.
Engraved by William Bernard Cooke and etched by Edward Francis Finden in 1826 for the 'Literary Souvenir'.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1819 Grosvenor Place no. 13 or 23
1877/8 London, Grosvenor Galleries, 'Old Master Drawings', no. 268
1899 London, Guildhall, J.M.W.Turner, no. 132
1910 London, Agnews, Collection of the late Mr Georege Salting, no. 223
1975 BM, Turner in the BM, no.39
1977 Oct-Nov, Louisville, KT, Speed Museum, British watercolours, no.47
1980 York, City Art Gallery, 'Turner in Yorkshire' no. 32
1982 Georgia Museum of Artr 'Turner', no. 13
1982 San Francisco, Museum of Art
1983 Aug-Oct, Grasmere, Dove Cottage, 'Lake District 1810-50'
1984 Jul-Dec, London, Tate Gallery, 'Turner's Richmondshire Tour'
1988 May-Jul, Nottingham, Castle Museum, Arts Festival Exh, (no cat.)
1991 Jan-Mar, Ohio, Cleveland MA, BM English Watercolours, no. 41
1991 Mar-Jun, N Carolina MA, BM English Watercolours, no. 41
2000/1 Dec-Feb, London, RA, JMW Turner: Great Watercolours, no. 43
2003/4 Nov-Feb, Birmingham MAG, Turner's Britain
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Literary Souvenir
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number