Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Coffer-Dam and Construction Work above Old London Bridge


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 160 x 100 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 25

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, there are two slight studies here of Old London Bridge looking east from upstream, indicating ongoing construction work on the coffer-dams out of which the piers of the bridge’s replacement would rise. An outline of one of the dams is seen in the lower view. Work had begun in March 1824, as discussed under folio 22 recto (D17954), and Turner seems to have taken the opportunity to revisit the works on 9 November, Lord Mayor’s Day; see also folios 23 recto and 23 verso–24 recto (D17956–D17958).
As well Old London Bridge, the drawings between folios 20 verso and 34 verso (D40967, D17979) include rapid studies and notes of barges, flags, costumes and bridges along the River Thames, and appear to record or relate to that occasion, as discussed in the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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