- Museum number
Richmond Hill and Bridge, Surrey; in the foreground groups of figures seated on the grassy bank of the river having a picnic. c.1831
Watercolour, touched with bodycolour
- Production date
- 1828-1829 (circa)
Height: 291 millimetres
Width: 435 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Sloan 1998
In the 1830s Ruskin's father, John James Ruskin, began a modest collection of watercolours by British artists such as David Cox, Copley Fielding and Samuel Prout, an artist his son particularly admired. His first expensive purchase was a view of Venice by James Holland, for which he paid 25 guineas in 1836. He also shared his son's growing admiration for the work of Turner and in 1839 bought this watercolour of Richmond, Surrey, for him for 55 guineas.¹ Reminiscing many years later, the younger Ruskin explained that his father had bought it for him "thinking I should not ask for another, - we both then agreeing that it had nearly everything characteristic of Turner in it, and more especially the gay figures!"² It was, however, only the beginning of a growing passion, John James spending over £1,200 on fifteen more watercolours by Turner in the next five years and at the same time building up an increasing acquaintance with the artist himself.
The younger Ruskin, meanwhile, became a significant collector and certainly the most important interpreter of the artist's work, his words informing nearly every commentary up to the present day. When he agreed to lend his collection of Turner watercolours to the Fine Art Society for exhibition in 1878, his accompanying 'Notes' shared all the vagaries of his own changing taste for different periods of the artist's work. Explaining that the present work had been the foundation of his collection, he also stated, "A more wonderful or instructive piece of composition I could not have had by me; nor was I ever weary of trying to analyze it. After thirty years' endeavour I finally surrender that hope." When this watercolour was first shown by Charles Heath in 1829, its title was 'Richmond Hill and Bridge, with a Picnic Party'. In his 1878 exhibition, Ruskin hung it to contrast with a dark watercolour of a heavily industrialised 'Dudley' (W 858) which he subtitled 'Work'; the accompanying subtitle 'Play' was appended to the Richmond view for the next hundred years.
1. Deardon, p. 15.
2. FAS 1900, pp. 34-5.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1829 Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly,no.27: Richmond Hill and Bridge with Picnic Party
1833 Moon, Boys and Graves Gallery, no.18
1878 FAS, no.33
1900 no.29 'Play: Richmond Bridge, Surrey'
1919 Agnew's, no.20
1951 Agnew's, no.78
1959 1960, BM
1966 Feb, BM, Turner Lloyd Bequest, no.29
1969 Feb, BM, Turner Lloyd Bequest, no.29
1975 BM, Turner in the BM, no.174
1998 May-Sept., BM, J.M.W.Turner: Lloyd Bequest, no.29
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- UNDER THE TERMS OF THE BEQUEST, NONE OF THE PRINTS OR DRAWINGS BEQUEATHED BY R. W. LLOYD MAY BE LENT OUTSIDE THE BRITISH MUSEUM (Registration Numbers 1958,0712.318 to 3149).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number