Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Firework Display

1831

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 74 x 94 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25614
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 47

Catalogue entry

Finberg has read this lively but somewhat obscure sketch as depicting a fireworks display.1 If this is correct, and the sketch was made during Turner’s 1831 tour, then it is likely that it was held as part of the celebrations for the Coronation of William IV, which took place on 8 September 1831.2 The scene shows a street with trees at the centre and a building at the right. The ‘fireworks’ are indicated with lines, dots and scribbled shapes in the sky. There may be an inscription at the bottom of the page, though it is illegible.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.849.
2
A fireworks display was held on Glasgow Green to celebrate the coronation around this time. (‘Announcement of fireworks display’, MS, Glasgow University Library).

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