- Museum number
Lake Nemi; view in a mountainous landscape, a girl with goats at the water's edge, at right a path amongst classical ruins leading towards a town on top of the hill. c.1840
Watercolour, with scraping-out
- Production date
- 1840 (circa)
Height: 347 millimetres
Width: 515 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Thomas Tudor called this 'perhaps the finest work in the collection' when he saw it in the house of Benjamin Windus in 1847 (see S. Whittingham, 'The Turner collector: Benjamin Godfrey Windus 1790-1867', Turner Studies, vol. 7 no. 2, 1988, pp. 30). When sold from the Fowler collection in 1899 Lake Nemi realised the highest price ever paid for a Turner watercolour
Engraved by R Wallis for Finden's 'Royal Gallery of British Art', 1842.
In several of the watercolours in the R. W. Lloyd Bequest Turner attempted to capture in this difficult medium the warmth and atmosphere found in paintings by the greatest painters of 'classical' landscape, artists such as Claude, Poussin and Dughet. Lake Nemi, "the mirror of Diana", like the neighbouring volcanic crater of Lake Albano, had been a site of pilgrimage for every visitor to Rome, patron or artist, since the seventeenth century. In the work of John Robert Cozens, in particular, it was a motif that was repeated time after time, with a little variation in the viewpoint, types of trees, or figures, and Turner and Girtin must have copied several examples while working from Dr Monro's collection in the 1790s (see Appendix 2, p. 145). Turner himself had painted the lake in watercolour in 1818 before he had even been to Italy, basing his work on a drawing by James Hakewill, for engravings to illustrate the latter's 'Picturesque Tour in Italy' (1819). This earlier watercolour belonged to Ruskin and has often been confused with Lloyd's later view.¹
Employing similar techniques to those he used for his Italianate view of 'Tancarville' (1958,0712.423), Turner created this atmospheric watercolour of the most 'classical' of all Italian subjects, not by using layers of paint to achieve texture and depth, but by laying on washes in the thinnest of colours and then sponging them and scraping away highlights, finally conveying a sense of form with the tiniest hatches of coloured brush. The iridescent patches where light seems to sparkle over the hazy landscape, catching the mist in the trees, on the hills and over the lake's surface, are reminiscent of the flecks of white brushwork that flickered over the surface of Constable's painted canvases, attempting to achieve the same effect but by a completely different means.
In 1847 Thomas Tudor, himself a collector of Turner watercolours, made four visits to see Windus's collection at Tottenham. He described this view of Lake Nemi as "the first work in the collection & no description of it can convey its merits".² Unfortunately it was painted after Scarlett Davis's watercolour of the Windus collection of 1835 (frontispiece), so is not recorded there. When it was exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1871 the catalogue noted that the watercolour was inscribed "JWT". All impressions of the first state of the engraving bear the monogram and date "JMWT 1840" inside the plate-line (R 659).
l. FAS 1900 (18).
2. Whittingham 1987, pp. 30-31.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1871, BFAC, no.116
1889, RA, no.21
1919, Agnew's, no.26
1928, Agnew's Manchester, no.45
1951, Agnew's, no.113
1959, 1960, BM
1966 Feb, BM, Turner Lloyd Bequest, no.36
1969 Feb, BM, Turner Lloyd Bequest, no.36
1975 BM, Turner in the BM, no.263
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.97
1998 May-Sept., BM, J.M.W.Turner: Lloyd Bequest, no.44
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Royal Gallery of British Art
- 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