Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Man in a Top Hat; Distant Views of Worcester from the River Severn; the Dog and Duck Ferry

?1831

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 191 x 114 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D22158
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 5

Catalogue entry

The man in the top hat, drawn towards the top left with the page turned vertically, appears to have been made first, with thumbnail landscape sketches fitted around him. For other figure studies in this sketchbook, see the entry for inside the front cover (D41053); see in particular the study of an angler from the back on folio 69 verso (D18591; Turner Bequest CCXI 42), and the group apparently fishing on folio 4 verso opposite (D22157). The present figure appears posed, with one hand on his hip and the other arm raised, perhaps in the act of casting a line. Fishing was a favourite hobby of Turner’s.1
At the top left is a view of Worcester from the north-west, with the tower of All Saints Church, the spire of St Andrew’s and the cathedral from across the river. At the top right, with the page horizontal but inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the city is seen in the distance beyond trees beside what appears to be a ‘Tea Gard[en]’ above the River Severn. The ellipse on the far bank is probably the long north-south circuit of the racecourse at Pitchcroft seen in shallow perspective; see also folios 82 verso and 83 recto (D22302, D22303; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 81a, 82). At the top left, similarly orientated to the previous sketch, is a slight view along a river, presumably the Severn near Worcester, although the viewpoint and direction are undetermined.
Finally, towards the gutter with the page turned vertically is a view labelled ‘Dog and Duck’. A ferry operated to the Pitchcroft side from near an inn of that name down Ferry Bank at the bend of the Severn off Henwick Road.2 It is unclear whether the one of the buildings Turner shows is the inn, or whether it survives as one of the few old buildings among the modern housing along the riverbank at that point. The view is again south to the city, on the skyline. For other views of Worcester, see under folio 2 verso (D22154).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

1
See James Hamilton, ‘Fishing’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.110.
2
See ‘Resources – Old Pictures and Photographs of Worcester: Outer Worcester’, Worcester City Museums, accessed 23 September 2013, http://www.worcestercitymuseums.org.uk/content/oldpics/outer.htm; and Rosalind M. Parish, ‘Ferry Stories: Some Worcestershire Ferries on the River Severn’, Worcestershire News, accessed 23 September 2013, http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/1057749.m5ec/?from=ec&to=1057749&l=ferry_stories.

Read full Catalogue entry