Joseph Mallord William Turner A Firework Display 1831

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Artwork details

A Firework Display
From Rokeby and Appleby Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CCLXIV
Date 1831
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 74 x 94 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 47
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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

Finberg 1909, II, p.849.
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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