Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 - 1851)
- Hackfall, near Ripon
- probably c. 1816
- Watercolour with gum varnish on paper
- Image size: 27.9 x 39.6 cm
- Signature: '…W.Turner RA'
Inscription: '661.' Written in pencil
- Not on display
- This picture is one of four watercolours by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) in the Wallace Collection – the only works by the British master in the collection. All four watercolours are landscape views of Yorkshire, painted in the 1810s. The pictures thus belong to a period of British art in which watercolour emerged as a more respected and exhibited medium – tellingly, the Society for Painters of Watercolour had been founded in 1804. Turner had exhibited his first watercolour at the Royal Academy in 1790. He went on to produce nearly 1600 watercolours over the course of his career, an aspect of his work which is particularly celebrated.
Turner had first visited the Yorkshire in 1797 and returned repeatedly throughout his career. A particular connection to Yorkshire was the collector Walter Fawkes, who lived at Farnley Hall near Otley and became an important friend and patron of Turner’s in the 1810s and 20s. From 1808, Farnley Hall became a regular retreat for the artist, particularly in the summer months. This picture, together with the other Turner watercolours in the collection, was not painted for Fawkes, however, but for his brother-in-law Sir William Pilkington of Chevet Hall (near Wakefield), who was also a regular visitor to the house.
The present picture shows as view of Hackfall, a deeply wooded valley situated five miles north-west of Ripon. The composition appears to derive from a sketch made by the artist during his tour of Yorkshire in 1816. In fact, Turner made a number of sketches and paintings of Hackfall around this time. Mowbray Castle, an artificial ruin – or ‘folly’ – built in the late eighteenth century, can be seen in the distance.
The picture was bought by the 4th Marquess of Hertford from Elhanan Bicknell, an important patron and collector of British art and a contemporary of Turner’s. The 4th Marquess bought about a third of his collection when it was sold at Christies in 1863. In the context of his collection as a whole, however, the 4th Marquess took only a limited interest in nineteenth-century British art.