Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Buckingham Palace c.1828

Artwork details

Date c.1828
Medium Watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 292 x 440 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 161
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Finberg suggested that this colour study represented Hampton Court Palace, seen from the River Thames, presumably on account of its loose correlation with the watercolour Hampton Court Palace of about 1827 (private collection),1 engraved in 1829 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04550). The Turner scholar C.F. Bell’s suggestion that it is instead a view of Buckingham Palace in central London2 has been noted and taken up by later commentators Michael Spender, Lindsay Stainton and Eric Shanes.3 Together with Tate D25284 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 162), Finberg noted that it apparently represents ‘the same subject seen under two different effects’.4 Tate D25310 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 188) is a third close variation (which Finberg also thought showed Hampton Court), while Tate D25151 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 29) may show the same building in the distance; Finberg suggested that Tate D25309 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 187) was yet another Hampton Court view;5 although it was once part of the same sheet as the current work (see the technical notes below), the execution is rougher and the composition (albeit of a building beyond water) some way removed from the completed Hampton Court watercolour and the other ‘Buckingham Palace’ colour studies.6
Shanes has suggested that this and the three works specified above are all studies for an undeveloped view of Buckingham Palace for England and Wales.7 As he notes, the building ‘sported a dome for a short time in the 1820s’,8 when the former Buckingham House was redeveloped in palatial, classical style by John Nash (1752–1832) for King George IV (1820–1830).9 There are engravings made around 1830 showing the palace in this intermediate state: The Garden Front of the King’s Palace in Pimlico from the west, across the lake in its gardens, by Thomas Higham (1796–1844), and The King’s Palace, Pimlico from the east, across the lake in St James’s Park, after Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1793–1864) (both London Metropolitan Archives). The engraving from the west in particular shows the central dome and four flanking rectangular attic pavilions; the latter were presumably demolished when the dome was replaced by the present central rectangular attic floor before 1847.10
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.395 no.812.
MS note in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, p.826.
Spender 1980, p.168; Stainton 1983, p.[84]; Shanes 1997, pp.95, 96, 99 and see also pp.19, 105.
Finberg 1909, II, p.826.
Ibid., p.828.
See Shanes 1997, where it is listed as follows: p.101 (Appendix I) under ‘River Scenes, Unidentified’, p.105 (Appendix II), as ‘Sketch: unidentifiable view’.
Shanes 1997, p.19.
See ‘History [of Buckingham Palace]’, The British Monarchy, accessed 19 March 2013,
Wilton 1979, pp.356–7 no.498, reproduced.
Finberg 1909, II, p.826.
Shanes 1997, pp.95, 96, 99.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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