Joseph Mallord William Turner: Colchester

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
Colchester, Essex
c. 1825–26
Watercolor, white and colored chalks, and gouache, with scraping
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Gift in memory of Sir Stephen Courtauld, 1974

In 1825 Turner was commissioned to produce designs for a series of engravings. Colchester shows the artist grappling with the challenges of producing watercolors intended for engraving. He developed a technique of layering careful finishes of stippling over color washes. The figures chasing a hare allude to the witch hunts that took place in Colchester during the English Civil War: according to rural tradition, witches could transform themselves into hares.