Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Church, Possibly Dedicated to St George


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 x 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 12

Catalogue entry

This detailed sketch of a church exterior, made with the page turned vertically, remains somewhat of an enigma. Filling the top third of the sheet with architectural and topographical elaboration, Turner describes an impressive place of worship seemingly elevated above the surrounding buildings, approached via a flight of steps visible on the left. Domestic dwellings flank the church, packed into the composition on both sides, and the hilly ground rises up towards the centre. A tree is sketched in briefly towards far left, and the entrance to the church is obscured to a degree by planting directly outside the door. Rows of impressive windows line the visible walls of the church; the tower is flat and reasonably short.
Finberg suggests that the inscription beneath the drawing might read ‘Rd. Georges-Boot’.1 This is indeed a plausible suggestion considering the legible characters. It is possible that the first two words refer to the church as ‘St George’s’, although the precise identity and location of the building remains unclear.
Finberg 1909, I, p.604.
Technical notes:
The top right corner has suffered some mild staining, possibly caused by water.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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