Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (London 1775-1851)
Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (London 1775-1851)

Newark Abbey on the River Wey

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (London 1775-1851)
Newark Abbey on the River Wey
oil on panel
11 x 18 in. (27.9 x 45.7 cm.)
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lancaster, Perpetual Curate (1801-1827) of Merton, Surrey.
John Pye (1782-1874); (+), Christie's, London, 20 May 1874, lot 39 (360 gns. to Agnew).
with Agnew's, London, from whom purchased
Samuel Jones Loyd, 1st Lord Overstone (1796-1883), Overstone Park, Northamptonshire, and by descent to the Lockinge Trustees; Christie's, London, 20 November 1992, lot 29a.
New York art market, where acquired by the present owner.
G. Redford, A Descriptive Catalogue of the pictures at Lockinge House (Lord Overstone's Collection), 1875, p. 30, no. 45.
Sir W. Armstrong, Turner, London and New York, 1902, p. 226.
A.G. Temple, Catalogue of Pictures forming the collection of Lord and Lady Wantage, London, 1902, p. 161, no. 242.
Guide to pictures at Lockinge House, Wantage, 1928, p. 16.
L. Parris, The Loyd Collection of Paintings and Drawings, London, 1967, pl. 41, no. 59.
M. Butlin and E. Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, I, 1977, p. 113, no. 201; II, pl. 200.
M. Butlin and E. Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, 2nd edition, I, 1984, p. 125, no. 201; II, pl. 200.
L. Parris, The Loyd Collection of Paintings and Drawings, 1991 (revised ed.), no. 59, pl. 26.
D. Hill, Turner on the Thames, New Haven and London, 1993, p. 81, pl. 116.

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This ethereal work on panel by J.M.W. Turner depicts the remains of Newark Abbey near Woking, Surrey. Built by Augustinian canons during the reign of Richard I (1189-1199), Newark Abbey served as a monastery before Henry VIII ordered its dissolution in 1539. The building fell into ruin, and by the 19th-century, the site was reduced to the walls of the presbytery and southern transept. It stands on the banks of the Wey Navigation, one of the first navigable waterways in England which linked Guildford to Weybridge on the Thames.

In its derelict state, Newark Abbey was a compelling subject for Turner, who depicted it numerous times in both works on paper and in oil. Several sheets of a sketchbook from the Turner Bequest now in the Tate Gallery, London, capture the ruins from a variety of angles (see inv. DO6296, D06298, D06300, D06302). Also at the Tate are two oil sketches of Newark Abbey on mahogany veneer (inv. N02302; N02607), which like the present work, capture a southern view, but are more thinly painted with freer handling. A finished painting on canvas of Newark Abbey, possibly exhibited at Turner's own gallery in 1807, was owned in the 19th century by Sir John Leicester before entering the Mellon Collection and today belongs to the Yale University Center for British Art (inv. B1981.25.633). Viewing Turner's images of Newark Abbey as a group, the viewer can observe the structure's distinctive profile, with its gaping windows and gable nestled in the verdant river landscape, from a variety of vantage points and during multiple times of day. Together, these works provide meaningful insight into Turner's working process, revealing his practice of seeking out, exploring and refining compelling compositions when working outdoors and later in the studio.

The dating of Turner's Newark Abbey works have been debated in art historical scholarship. Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll discount John Gage's theory that Turner produced the Newark Abbey imagery three distinct groups (J. Gage, Color in Turner: Poetry and Truth, London, 1969, pp. 36-39), and suggest that the present work dates to around 1807-1808 (Butlin and Joll, loc. cit.). In his 1993 text, however, David Hill names Newark Abbey as the last stop during Turner's 1805 voyage down the River Wey (see Hill, op. cit., pp.79-84). Regarding the present work, Hill posits that its finished appearance comes from Turner's decision to overwork the painting in the studio, while still retaining its original character as a sketch. The provenance of this work is distinct from others in the group, as it was not part of the Turner bequest. Rather, it entered the collection of Reverend Dr. Thomas Lancaster, Perpetual Curate (1801-1827) of Merton, for whom the subject would have had a local significance.

More from Old Master Paintings Part I

View All
View All