About this artwork

Turner’s painting shows Somer Hill House near Tonbridge in Kent, and was presumably painted for the owner of the house, Mr W. F. Woodgate. The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811, and is effectively a ‘portrait’ of the estate. Turner constricted his composition so as to lead the viewer through the landscape to discover the house. Even Turner's handling of the sky contributes to this tunnel-like composition. A careful pencil study for the painting appears in a sketchbook used by Turner in the spring of 1810 when he also visited the nearby Rosehill (now Brightling) Park in Sussex. The sketchbook he used is in the Tate Gallery.

  • title: Somer Hill, Tonbridge
  • accession number: NG 1614
  • artist: Joseph Mallord William TurnerEnglish (1775 - 1851)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1811
  • measurements: 92.00 x 122.00 cm (framed: 129.80 cm 160.50 x 13.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased with the aid of the Cowan Smith Bequest Fund 1922
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner transformed the art of landscape painting in Britain. From detailed topographical studies to expansive, atmospheric vistas his works celebrate the diversity and emotive power of nature. He was born in Covent Garden, the son of a barber, and exhibited his earliest sketches in his father's shop before studying at the Royal Academy Schools. Turner became the youngest ever full member of the Royal Academy in 1802. His experimental use of watercolour and oils achieved stunning effects, attracting contemporary criticism and praise. Turner's admiration of past masters, above all Claude Lorraine, and the numerous sketches made on many tours in Britain and abroad, provided the basis for his 'sublime' land and seascapes.