Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Bridge and its Reflection

c.1820–40

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 352 x 510 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25493
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 370

Catalogue entry

As Eric Shanes has noted, with this quick study comprising little more than a grey silhouette ‘it is impossible even to make out whether we are looking at a bridge or simply a reflection of one’,1 on balance it seems likely that the image is to be read with the six arches uppermost, towards the top right, across a wide expanse of water reflecting the sky. Alternatively, when inverted, other forms may suggest a distant wooded skyline and high, blue-tinged clouds in the sky itself.
Without further comment, presumably on stylistic grounds, Shanes has associated this unidentified if not spontaneous subject with the watercolours Turner made between about 1812 and 1824 to be engraved for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England.2
There are two scenes with bridges in more conventional landscape settings in this section: Tate D25223, D25235 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 101, 113).
1
Shanes 1997, p.31; see also pp.101, 102.
2
Ibid., p.102; see Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, pp.350–5 nos.445–489.
Technical notes:
The underlying wash does not reach to the edge of the sheet at the right and below, and there are rough dabs and strokes of grey at the top left, presumably to test the colour.
Verso:
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
December 2015

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