405
405

PROPERTY OF A DESCENDANT OF JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR (1830-1905)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A.
INTERIOR OF FOUNTAINS ABBEY, YORKSHIRE
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 56,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
405

PROPERTY OF A DESCENDANT OF JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR (1830-1905)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A.
INTERIOR OF FOUNTAINS ABBEY, YORKSHIRE
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 56,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A.
LONDON 1775 - 1851
INTERIOR OF FOUNTAINS ABBEY, YORKSHIRE
Watercolour over pencil, heightened with bodycolour, stopping out and scratching out
280 by 396 mm.
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Provenance

Walter Ramsden Hawksworth Fawkes (1769-1825), Farnley Hall, Yorkshire,
by family descent to Ayscough Fawkes (1831-1899),
his sale, London, Christie's, 28 June 1890, lot 40, bt. Agnew's,
with Agnew's, London;
John Edward Taylor (1830-1905), by 1890,
his executor's sale, London, Christie's, 5 July 1912, lot 50, bt. Agnew's on behalf of John Edward Taylor Allen (1864-1919), John Edward Taylor’s nephew,
thence by family descent to the present owner  

 

Exhibited

London, 45 Grosvenor Place, Collection of Watercolour Drawings in the Possession of Walter Fawkes, Esq., 1819, no. 7;
Leeds, Music Hall, Leeds Public Exhibition in Aid of the Mechanics Institute, 1839, no. 52; 
London, Agnew's, Exhibition of Watercolour Drawings by J.M.W. Turner, R.A., 1913, no. 41;
York, York City Art Gallery, Turner in Yorkshire, 1980, no. 35;
Wakefield, Wakefield Art Galleries and Musuems, 1988 (on loan);
London, Royal Academy, Turner: The Great Watercolours, 2000-2001, no. 49

Literature

L. Caldesi & Co., The Farnley Hall Collection of Turner Drawings in the Possession of F.H. Fawkes, Esq., 1864, pl. 13;
A.J. Finberg, Turner's Water-Colours at Farnley Hall, London 1912, no. 91;
A. Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p. 362, no. 546;
D. Hill, Turner in the North, Yale 1996, pp. 38 & 199;
L. Bailey, ’Turner’s Purposeful Patron: Walter Fawkes’ 1819 Watercolour Exhibition', Turner Society News, 131, Spring 2019, pp. 16-20, illust. fig. 7

Catalogue Note

This watercolour dates to circa 1816 and sees Turner focus in on one of the greatest monastic sites in Europe: Fountains Abbey. Founded by Cistercian monks in the twelfth century, the monumental building lies about thirty miles to the north-west of York. Although in its heyday the abbey held great power and influence in the north of England, Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries meant that, by the end of the Tudor age, Fountains had already descended into a ruinous state. In the mid eighteenth century the ruins were incorporated into the celebrated water gardens of Studley Royal, a neighbouring estate that belonged to the Aislabie family.

Choosing a low viewpoint, Turner looks northwards across the nave towards Abbot Marmaduke Huby’s early sixteenth century tower. Poignantly, perhaps, it is nearing the end of the day and the stones of the ancient building glow orange in the late afternoon sun. Time has taken its toll and Turner has intentionally highlighted the weeds, shrubs and even trees that appear to be thriving on the masonry. Nature is encroaching from every direction, so much so that one might feel a little sorry for the gardener who stands dwarfed by her surroundings while sweeping up leaves with a long elegant rake. 

Turner first visited Fountains Abbey in 1797, during a two-month tour of the north. On that occasion he drew the monastery from a variety of angles in both his Tweed and Lakes and North of England sketchbooks.1 Upon his return to London he painted The Dormitory and Transept of Fountains Abbey – Evening, a large watercolour that he then exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798.2

In 1815 Turner returned to the abbey once again and the present watercolour is based on a pencil drawing that appears in the so-called Devonshire River No. 3 and Wharfedale sketchbook.3 As he had done annually since 1808, he stayed with Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall, which is situated to the north of Leeds, just outside the old market town of Otley. On this particularly visit Turner was busy collecting material for a major project called The History of Richmondshire, whereby he had been invited by the publisher Longman to paint 120 watercolours that would illustrate Dr Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s book of the same name. The present work was not engraved, but its size, technique and subject matter suggest that it may well relate to this ambitious scheme.

Interior of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire has an exceptional provenance. Its first owner was Walter Fawkes himself, Turner’s Yorkshire host and very close friend. Furthermore, Fawkes was the artist’s most enthusiastic early patron and by 1825, the year of his untimely death, he had acquired nine oil paintings and well over 200 watercolours.

The second great owner was John Edward Taylor, who had acquired the work by 1890. Taylor was the proprietor of the Manchester Guardian newspaper whose collection comprised over one hundred works by Turner which he hung at his magnificent London house, 20 Kensington Palace Gardens. In 1892 he bequeathed 154 watercolours (including twenty-four works by Turner) to the newly founded Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and in 1912 Christie’s held a celebrated sale of the remainder of the collection. The present work appeared as lot 50 in that sale and it was acquired by Agnew’s on behalf of Taylor's nephew, John Edward Taylor Allen (1864-1919). The work has remained in that family collection since then and it was last seen in public in the winter of 2000/2001, when included in the Royal Academy’s landmark exhibition: Turner, The Great Watercolours. For other works by Turner from the J.E. Taylor collection in this sale, please see lots 397 and 421. 

We are grateful to Ian Warrell for his help when cataloguing this work.

 

1. Turner Bequest, Tate, Britain: XXXV 7 & XXXIV
2. A. Wilton, op. cit., p. 326, no. 238 (York City Art Gallery)
3. Turner Bequest, Tate, Britain: Devonshire Rover No. 3 and Wharfedale sketchbook T.B. CXXXIV – 64

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