Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (British, 1775-1851)
Provenance: Walter Fawkes; Mrs Stern, her sale at Christie's, 19th June 1908, lot 51 (bt. Gooden & Fox); J.D.Hughes, his sale at Christie's, 31st May 1912, lot 63 (bt. Wyndham); by descent to the Hon. Mark Wyndham, his sale at Christie's, 7th March 1972, lot 77.
Literature: Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, 1979, p.363, no.550; Richard Green, Turner in Yorkshire, exhib cat., 1980, no.28.
The present watercolour is based on a large pencil drawing of Barden Tower on Whatman paper dated 1804 in the Tate Gallery (TB CLIV-L). Barden Tower is located on the river Wharfe several miles north of Bolton Abbey. During the summer of 1808, Turner travelled up the Wharfe paying his first visit to Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall. Ten drawings survive from Turner's journey, mapping a tour up the Wharfe taking in Addingham, Bolton Abbey, Bolton Woods, the Strid and Barden Tower, the northernmost point that he reached.
Fawkes was a generous patron and a close friend of Turner's; the artist was a regular visitor to Farnley up until Fawke's death in 1824. From 1808 until 1810, Fawkes bought at least twenty watercolours and four oils from Turner and Turner painted at least thirty views of Farnley Hall and the surrounding area for Fawkes from 1815 onwards.
On 20th February 1809, Fawkes appears to have bought a number of Yorkshire views from Turner according to a list of ten pictures in the front of Turner's Greenwich sketchbook (TB CII, inside cover). Of these, at least six can be related to surviving pictures (see Richard Green, Turner in Yorkshire, exhib cat., 1980, p.25) including the present watercolour which is listed as '2 Bardon Tower'.