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Works (?) Edward Hawke Locker after Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Gateway of Great Malvern Priory

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0306: (?) Edward Hawke Locker (1777–1849), after Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), The Gateway of Great Malvern Priory, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on paper, 31 × 18.1 cm, 12 ¼ × 7 in. Courtauld Gallery, London, Samuel Courtauld Trust (D.1952.RW.3657).

Photo courtesy of The Courtauld, London, Samuel Courtauld Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), Great Malvern Priory from the Gatehouse, (?) 1794, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 32 × 42.2 cm, 12 ⅝ × 16 ⅝ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Description
Creator(s)
(?) Edward Hawke Locker (1777-1849) after Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
Title
  • The Gateway of Great Malvern Priory
Date
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
Dimensions
31 × 18.1 cm, 12 ¼ × 7 in
Object Type
Formerly attributed to Thomas Girtin; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Town and Domestic Fortifications

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG0306
Girtin & Loshak Number
90 as 'Great Malvern Priory Gateway'; by Thomas Girtin 'After Turner'; '1794–5'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and March 2023

Provenance

Sir Michael Ernest Sadler (1861-1943); Thos. Agnew & Sons, 1945; bought by Sir Robert Clermont Witt (1872–1952) for £120; bequeathed to the Gallery, 1952

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1945, no.35, £140 as ’The gate-house’ by Thomas Girtin; Agnew’s, 1953a, no.2 as by Thomas Girtin

About this Work

Great Malvern Priory and Gatehouse, from the North West

This view of part of the gateway of Great Malvern Priory was copied from one of two watercolours by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) (see the source image above and figure 1) and it was confidently attributed to Girtin by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak in their catalogue (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.146).1 The copy shows just the right-hand third of Turner’s composition, omitting the view of the abbey church to the left and the cart within the gateway. We can be reasonably sure that it was copied from the watercolour rather than an untraced on-the-spot pencil drawing by Turner because if we superimpose images of the two views, it is clear that the copy is the same size and reproduces the details of the architecture, though not with quite enough accuracy to suggest that it was traced from the Turner. The palettes employed in the watercolours are also similar, though it is difficult to be precise about this as they have faded somewhat. The fact that the copy employs some pinkish tones in the stone perhaps clinches the issue, since, without having visited Malvern, Girtin, if indeed he was the author of the work, could not have got any sense of the local stone colour, certainly not if he had worked from a pencil drawing.

In considering copies such as this, it is as well to examine the means by which a work was replicated as well as the artist’s motive – in other words, how might the copyist have got access to a finished studio watercolour that they did not own? In this case, there is a possibility that one of the Turner watercolours was the view of Malvern that was shown at the Royal Academy’s exhibition in 1794 (no.336), though it should be remembered that copying in the Academy’s exhibition rooms was prohibited (a rule introduced to deter the production of pirate prints from the exhibits). A more likely scenario would be that the copyist came across one of the works in the collection of an early patron and, although there is no direct evidence linking it to the ownership of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), he would be the most obvious candidate if Girtin was responsible for the work. This might help with understanding the motive behind the production of this copy too, for whilst it might have made sense for Girtin to have made a replica of the whole of the composition, in effect adding it to his stock of images from which a patron might commission a watercolour, that he might have copied just part of a subsidiary building is baffling. Returning to the copy more recently, I was struck by the way that the watercolour washes fail to define the structure and create a credible sense of space and the attribution of the drawing to Girtin, albeit with a question mark, was retained only in the absence of any obvious alternative.2

An Outline Key in the Form of a Hand-Held Screen Showing Works in Locker's Drawing Room at Greenwich Hospital

Immediately following the launch of this online catalogue another possibility suggested itself. Researching the collector Edward Hawke Locker (1777–1849) Catherine Roach published images of a pair of outline keys in the form of hand-held screens (see figure 2) which identify the framed works owned by Locker hanging in the 'DINING ROOM' and the 'DRAWING ROOM' of his quarters at Greenwich Hospital (Roach, 2012, p.413). Amongst the fine collection of landscape watercolours identified on the key as by Paul Sandby (c.1730–1809), Francis Nicholson (1753–1844), John Sell Cotman (1782–1842) and Turner are three by Girtin. Two of these can be identified as Durham Cathedral and Castle, from the River Wear (TG1075) and Rievaux Abbey (TG1056), the latter being the subject of a fine copy which Locker signed and dated 1802 (see TG1056 figure 1).3 Adjacent to the Girtin view of Rievaux, on the same wall, Locker has inscribed ‘Malvern Priory / Turner / Worcestershire’ on a slightly smaller framed work and, given the quality of the amateur’s signed copy of Girtin’s drawing, this inevitably raises the possibility that the part transcription of Turner’s view of the gateway at Malvern might likewise be the outcome of Locker’s efforts at learning from one of the masters of the art.4 Indeed, comparing images of Locker’s signed copy of Rievaulx Abbey and the Malvern Priory view reveal sufficient stylistic similarities to suggest that the amateur himself was the author of both. Moreover, the fact that Girtin’s patron was the owner of the Turner original clearly establishes that Locker had both the means and the motive to produce a copy making this an altogether more plausible scenario than that put forward by Girtin and Loshak.

1796 - 1797

Durham Cathedral and Castle, from the River Wear

TG1075

(?) 1798

Rievaulx Abbey

TG1056

(?) 1798

Rievaulx Abbey

TG1056

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Footnotes

  1. 1 Of the two versions, it is the work now in a private collection that is the likeliest to have been the source for this copy. The presence of what looks like two water pipes coming out from the top left of the gateway in both the copy and the slightly larger Turner watercolour certainly points that way.
  2. 2 Paul Oppé (1878–1957), I suspect, was even further off the mark when he suggested that rather than being a copy, the work is actually by Turner and that it was sketched by him on the spot (Girtin Archive, 27).
  3. 3 The third work, marked on the plan as ‘Forum / Rome / Girtin’ has not been traced.
  4. 4 Turner’s 'Malvern Priory' appeared at the same sale of Locker’s collection as the three works by Girtin, together with three more watercolours by Turner (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 15 June 1844).

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