Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boston Stump, with the South Porch of the Church

1797

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 270 x 210 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D00992
Turner Bequest XXXIV 81 a

Catalogue entry

This is a careful study of the tower and south porch of St Botolph’s Church. There is a slight continuation of the subject on folio 85 verso opposite (D40564). The church tower (‘Boston Stump’) is nearly 300 feet (91 metres) high, and contains a light to guide vessels into the nearby Wash. Boston, which was an important port for several centuries, was a subject like Louth (see folio 84 recto; D00990; Turner Bequest XXXIV 80), that Benjamin Howlett had commissioned Turner to draw for his Select Views in the County of Lincoln. As in the case of Louth, the work was ultimately done by Girtin. A finished watercolour based on both this drawing and that on folio 87 recto (D00993; Turner Bequest XXXIV 82) was executed much later for the England and Wales series, in about 1833; it is now in the collection of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario,1 and was engraved in 1835 (Tate impression: T06115).
John Ruskin’s comments on this drawing, and two others exhibited with it, the tower of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol (Tate D00661; Turner Bequest XXVI 99) and the transept and towers of York Minster (Tate D01088; Turner Bequest XXXV 86), are as follows:
It will be observed, that throughout, the sketches are made not for effect but for information; a little bit of each portion of the building being completely drawn, the rest indicated. All Turner’s sketches from nature are made on this great principle; though the kind of information sought, and the shorthand by which it is stated, vary with the subject and the period.2
1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.400 no.859, reproduced.
2
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.253.
Verso:
Blank, except for pencil trials; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram

Andrew Wilton
January 2013

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