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Western art

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High force, Fall of the Tees, Yorkshire



Joseph Mallord William Turner


1775 - 1851


This watercolour was commissioned from Turner in 1816 as one of a series intended to serve as an engraved illustration to a 'History of Richmondshire' by the Rev. Thomas Dunham Whitaker. Turner spent the summer of 1816 on a sketching tour of Yorkshire. His base was Farnley Hall, the seat of his friend, William Fawkes. He worked at great speed on a number of watercolours simultaneously, building up his landscapes with fluid washes of translucent colour. Witnessing Turner at work, the Fawkes girls recalled "cords spread across the room as in that of a washer woman, and papers tinted with pink and blue and yellow hanging on them to dry".

When these sheets were dry Turner added final details with the point of the brush, such as the two fishermen, casting and netting, in the pool. A keen angler, Turner would have been interested that High Force was an impassable barrier to salmon, and that the pool at its base was often full of fish. He depicted the cascading water and ripples on the pool by scraping out areas of paint to expose the paper beneath.




Media category


Materials used

watercolour and scraping out


28.3 x 40.3 cm sheet; 28.2 x 39.8 cm sight; 47.0 x 59.0 x 5.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1947


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Works in the collection


Shown in 9 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Walter Ramsden Fawkes, pre 1825, England, Farnley Hall, Otley near Leeds. a Member of Parliament and High Sherriff

Rev. Ayscough Fawkes, 1825-27 Jun 1890, England, by descent to Ayscough Fawkes. Sold Chritie's London, 27 June 1890, lot 39

Sir Henry Doulton, 27 Jun 1890-1897, England, Purchased from Ayscongh Fawkes' sale of Turner drawings from Farnley Hall through Christie's 27 June 1890 lot 39.

Miss Doulton, 1897-circa 1947, England, by descent, sold to P & D Colnaghi & Co.

P & D Colnaghi and Co, pre Mar 1947, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Colnaghi's 1947

Referenced in 11 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 20 (colour illus.).

David Blaney Brown, JMW Turner, 'Rule Britannia? Patriotism, Progress and the Picturesque in Turner's Britain', pg. 48-72, Canberra, 1996, 58, 61 (colour illus.), 232. 48

Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, Oxford, 1939. Appendix no. 221

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 108, 126 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 38, 39 (illus.).

David Hill, In Turner's footsteps: through the hills and dales of Northern England, 1984, 72-75.

Simeran Maxwell, Turner to Monet: the triumph of landscape painting, 'J.M.W Turner', pg. 104, Canberra, 2008, 104, 105 (colour illus.). 29

Nicola Moorby, Turner from the Tate: the making of a master, 'Britain: the home front', pg.124-47, London, 2013, 124, 130 (colour illus.). no. 42

Peter Raissis, Victorian watercolours from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2017, p 17, col illus p 13 fig 2.

Peter Raissis, Victorian watercolours: selections from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Watercolour verses oil', pg.4-8, Sydney, 2000, 4 (colour illus.), 5. 36

Julian Rollins, Land Marks: impressions of England's national nature reserves, England, 2003, 78-8 (colour illus.). illustration is in reverse