Joseph Mallord William Turner

Buckfast Abbey and the Dart Valley

1814

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 179 x 254 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09855
Turner Bequest CXXXIV 57

Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint is the hillside east of Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh, looking north up the River Dart to Buckfast and the east side of Dartmoor beyond. Eric Shanes has identified this sketch as the basis for the watercolour Buckfastleigh Abbey, Devonshire of about 1826 (Exeter City Museums and Art Gallery),1 engraved in 1828 for the series Picturesque Views in England and Wales.2
Remains of the ruined medieval Cistercian abbey – known as Buckfast, rather than Buckfastleigh – had by this time been partly incorporated into Samuel Berry’s castellated late eighteenth-century Gothic mansion, seen here just to the right of centre. In turn this was integrated with the cloisters on the south-west side of a substantial new neo-Gothic Benedictine abbey church in the early twentieth century,3 while the open spaces recorded by Turner to the left of the river are now largely occupied by industrial buildings.
Shanes notes: ‘Turner probably visited the house in 1814, on a third West Country tour we unfortunately know little about.’4 For the likely dating of this sketchbook, see the Introduction; and for further views around Buckfastleigh and Buckfast Abbey see under folio 22 recto (D09844; Turner Bequest CXXXIV 48).
1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.393 no.800, reproduced.
2
Shanes 1979, p.156.
3
See Nikolaus Pevsner, South Devon, The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1952, pp.68–9.
4
Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, p.177.
Verso:
Blank

Matthew Imms
July 2014

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