Overview

This painting, one of two views of Mortlake Terrace painted by Turner, is a view from the house, looking directly west into the luminous glow of the setting sun. Turner established the quiet mood of the late-afternoon scene with two ivy-covered elm trees, whose soft, feathery leaves and curving limbs frame the painting. Long shadows create elegant patterns on the lawn that almost obscure the human element in the scene. Scattered about are a gardener's ladder, a hoop, a doll on a red chair, and an open portfolio of pictures that have been just left behind by figures watching the Lord Mayor's ceremonial barge.

The painting was done about eight years after Turner's first stay in Venice, where his perception of nature and the physical world was profoundly changed by the city's unique light and atmosphere. Light immobilizes the river and gives its surface a dreamlike shimmer. The stable mass of the classical gazebo, the delicate linear clarity of its architectural details, and the carefully depicted windows in the buildings on the left bank of the river coexist in Turner's vision with the heavy impasto of the sun's forceful rays that spill over the top of the embankment wall and dissolve the stone's very substance.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Painted for William Moffatt [c. 1754/1755-1831], "The Limes," Mortlake. with William Bernard Cooke, the engraver, c. 1831-1838. Harriott, by 1838; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 23 June 1838, no. 111); bought by Allnutt.[1] The Reverend Edward Thomas Daniell [1804-1842]; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 17 March 1843, no. 160); M.E. Creswick; sold 1851 to (Thos. Agnew & Sons, London); purchased 1851 by Samuel Ashton;[2] by descent to Elizabeth Gair Ashton [Mrs. Hyde Ashton], Cheshire;[3] by descent to Captain Ashton; sold 1920 jointly to (Thos. Agnew & Sons, London) and (Arthur J. Sulley & Co., London); sold 1920 to (M. Knoedler & Co., London and New York); sold 1 December 1920 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1827
Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1827, no. 300.
1857
Art Treasures of the United Kingdom:: Paintings by Modern Masters, Art Treasures Palace, Manchester, 1857, no. 256, as Barnes Terrace (on the Thames).
1899
Pictures and Drawings by J.M.W. Turner, R.A., and a Selection of Pictures by Some of His Contemporaries, Corporation of London Art Gallery, Guildhall, 1899, no. 23.
1909
Works by Early British Masters, City of Manchester Art Gallery, 1909, no. 30.
1974
Turner 1775-1851, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1974-1975, no. 310, repro.
1977
London and the Thames: Paintings of Three Centuries, National Maritime Museum for the Department of Environment, Somerset House, Greenwich, 1977, no. 48, repro.
1983
J.M.W. Turner, Grand Palais, Paris, 1983-1984, no. 36, color repro.
2004
Turner, Whistler, Monet, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Tate Britain, London, 2004-2005, no. 4, repro.
2007
J.M.W. Turner, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Dallas Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007-2008, no. 76, repro.

Bibliography

1827
_John Bull 337 (27 May 1827): 165.
1827
_Morning Post, 15 June 1827.
1860
Bürger, W. [T. Thoré], Trésors d'Art en Angleterre. Brussels and Ostend, 1860: 425-427.
1862
Thornbury, Walter. The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A.. 2 vols. London, 1862: 1:305, 413. (2d ed., 1877).
1902
Armstrong, Sir Walter. Turner. 2 vols. London, 1902, 1:118-119, repro. opp. 120.
1930
Whitley, William T. Art in England 1821-1837. Cambridge, 1930: 131-132, 282.
1937
Jewell, Edward Alden. "Mellon's Gift." Magazine of Art 30, no. 2 (February 1937): 82.
1941
_Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 199-200, no. 109.
1942
_Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 241, repro. 19.
1949
_Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 124, repro.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 12, repro.
1960
Cooke, Hereward Lester. British Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1960 (Booklet Number Eight in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 38, color repro.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 140, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 240, repro.
1965
_Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 132.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:370, color repro.
1968
_European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 119, repro.
1975
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 352, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: no. 598, color repro.
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 80, pl. 48.
1979
Wilton, Andrew. The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner. London, 1979: 132, pl. 139 (color detail).
1983
Shanes, Eric. "The Mortlake Conundrum." Turner Studies 3 (1983): 49-50, repro., detail.
1984
Butlin, Martin, and Evelyn Joll. The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner. 2 vols. New Haven and London, 1977. (2d rev. ed., 1984): 1:147-148; 2:color pl. 237.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 410, no. 583, color repro.
1985
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 404, repro.
1987
Gage, John. J.M.W. Turner: "A Wonderful Range of Mind." New Haven and London, 1987: 9-11, fig. 12 (color).
1987
Wilton, Andrew. Turner in his time. London, 1987: 272, color pl. 170.
1990
Kemp, Martin. The Science of Art. New Haven and London, 1990: 159, pl. 317.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 55, 67, color repro.
1992
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 268-272, color repro. 269.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 156, repro.
2003
Hamilton, James. Turner: The Late Seascapes. Exh. cat. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown; Manchester Art Gallery; Burrell Collection, Glasgow. New Haven, London, and Williamstown, 2003: 53, 60-61.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 344-345, no. 277, color repro.
2011
Pergam, Elizabeth A. The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857: Entrepreneurs, Connoisseurs and the Public. Farnham and Burlington, 2011: 313.

Technical Summary

The fine canvas is plain woven; it has been lined. The ground is white, of moderate thickness, and masks the weave of the canvas. The painting is executed in a variety of complex techniques. Smooth, opaque layers are used for the sky and river; the background buildings are rendered in fairly thin, opaque paint, while the rest of the design is constructed in multiple layers of glazes, especially thin and liquid in the trees; there is stiff impasto in the highlights, and occasional sgraffito marks created with a blunt instrument are evident in the tree trunk and some of the foliage on the left side of the canvas. The dog standing on the parapet is constructed with brown paper cut in the shape of a dog, and adhered to the paint; the surface of the brown paper is either painted black or is covered with a thin layer of printer's ink. The parasol is not a paper collage element, but is applied in thick paint. There is retouching along the entire right edge, but otherwise the paint losses are minimal. The natural resin varnish has only discolored slightly.

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