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

Lake Albano

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (1775-1851)
Lake Albano
pencil and watercolour with gum arabic and with scratching out
11 3/8 x 16 3/8 in. (28.9 x 41.6 cm.)
B.G. Windus, 1840.
F.R. Leyland; Christie's, London, 9 March 1872, lot 39 (500 gns. to Agnew's).
London, Agnew's, sold 1872 to J.S. Morgan and by descent to
J. Pierpont Morgan; Parke-Bernet, New York, 22-25 March 1944, lot 426. Edward Pugliese, New York, 1946.
Anon. sale; Christie's, London, 14 June 1983, lot 113.
C.F. Bell, A List of the Works Contributed to Public Exhibitions by J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London, 1901, p. 169.
Sir Walter Armstrong, Turner, London, Manchester and Liverpool, 1902, p. 239.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London, vol. 2, 1913, pp. 196, 222-3 and 231, no. 320.
A. Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg and London, 1979, p. 384, no. 731, as untraced.
C. Powell, 'Turner and the Bandits: Lake Albano rediscovered', Turner Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, Winter 1984, pp. 22-7, illustrated fig. 1.
S. Whittingham, 'News and Sales Information', Turner Studies, vol 4, no. 1, Summer 1984, p. 62.
C. Powell, Turner in the South, New Haven and London, 1987, pp. 9-10, 21, 89, 126-31, 197, illustrated fig. 135, pl. 25 colour detail. S. Whittingham, 'The Turner Collector: Benjamin Godfrey Windus 1790-1867', Turner Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, Winter 1987, p. 33.
A. Bailey, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner, London, 1997, p. 252.
London, Egyptian Hall, June-July 1829, no. 32.
Birmingham Society of Artists, 1829, no. 412.
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters 1889, no. 20, lent by J. Pierpont Morgan.
London, Agnew's, Annual Exhibition of Works in Water Colour, 1912, no. 25.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Paintings, Drawings and Prints by J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, R.P. Bonington, March-April 1946, no. 31, illustrated in colour.
Toronto, Ontario Museum of Fine Arts, no. 18, catalogue untraced.
London, Leger Galleries, English Watercolours, November-December 1983, no. 70, illustrated in colour.
Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, and Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, Turner, August-November 1986, no. 83, illustrated in colour.
London, Royal Academy, Turner: The Great Watercolours, 2 December- 18 February 2001, no. 63, illustrated in colour.
Essen, Museum Folkwang and Zurich, Kunsthaus, William Turner: Licht und Farbe, September 2001-May 2002, no. 99, illustrated in colour.
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Lot Essay

This watercolour was included in William Robinson's catalogue of the collection of G.B. Windus in 1840 (Whittingham 1987, loc.cit.). This was, after that of Walter Fawkes, probably the most important collection of Turner watercolours formed during the artist's lifetime.

This watercolour was one of a group painted for Charles Heath's projected Picturesque Views in Italy and exhibited with 38 watercolours for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, in the summer of 1829. Owing to financial difficulties over the England and Wales series the Italian project was abandoned, but all three works appeared in The Keepsake, also published by Heath; the other two views are Florence from San Miniato (Wilton, op. cit., no. 726) and Arona, Lago Maggiore (Wilton no. 730); these also belonged to Windus.

There is a large group of sketches of Lake Albano, some accompanied by figure studies, in the 'Albano, Nemi, Rome' sketchbook made by Turner on his visit to Italy in 1819 (Tate Britain, Turner Bequest CLXXXII, pp. 3-26, see especially pp. 7a, 10 and 14a-15). Cecilia Powell (locs.cit.) has pointed out, however, the equal importance as a source for Turner of the oil painting by Claude that he saw on the same journey in the Barbarini collection in Rome, Fig. 1, Pastoral Landscape with a View of Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, 1639, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; illustrated Powell op.cit. 1987, fig. 136). Not only are there great similarities between the compositions, with framing trees on both sides and a group of figures on the right, but Turner also emulates some of the features in the Claude that he had particularly noted in his 'Remarks' sketchbook, also used in Italy in 1819 (Turner Bequest CXCIII, pp. 95-6); these include the contrast between 'the trees on the left and centre dark [and] the right tree warm yellow leaves and brown stem', the colours of the female figures that keep 'the Eye to the centre', and the flowers in the centre that 'are painted very sharp' (Powell loc.cit. 1987, p. 127). Turner however adds his own overall warm glowing colour.

When this work was published in The Keepsake for 1829, it was accompanied by a short story, 'The Sisters of Albano, by the Author of Frankenstein', that is Mary Shelley. The prologue includes a long description of Lake Albano that seems to echo Turner's watercolour and includes a description of the figures, the hunter, the contadina and the pedlar. Mary Shelley goes on to identify the hunter as a bandit, reflecting the danger that still threatened the countryside near Rome at the time of Turner's visit, and also placing Turner's picture in the tradition of Salvator Rosa and as an example of the contemporary revival of such subjects by Turner's friend Charles Eastlake and other artists such as Thomas Uwins (Powell op.cit. 1987, pp. 127-31, illustrating Eastlake's Sommino Woman and Brigand, exhibited at the British Institution in 1823, as fig. 137). The brigand's interest in the pedlar's wares, described by Mary Shelley as including 'portraits of the Madonna', would illustrate the well-known piety of the bandits (Powell op.cit. 1987, 130-1).


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