Joseph Mallord William Turner

Crambe Beck Bridge, on the Road Between Malton and York


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 117 x 180 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLII 2

Catalogue entry

Finberg identified the subject as an aqueduct, but the sketch instead records the still-functioning viaduct carrying the road from York to Malton across the steep valley of Crambe Beck. The bridge was built in 1785 to the designs of John Carr of York and has been identified by the present writer as the subject of a famous watercolour by John Sell Cotman (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)1 and also recorded in a watercolour attributed to William Gilpin, Bridge on the Malton Road from York (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut).2
This sketch appears to be the first in the present sketchbook, suggesting that the book was begun mid-journey as Turner was travelling from Scarborough to Farnley Hall, the seat of Turner’s friend and patron Walter Fawkes. The Scarborough 2 sketchbook finishes with two sketches of the same subject (Tate D11969, D40711; Turner Bequest CLI 16 and inside back cover); Turner clearly moved on at this point from the one sketchbook to the other.
Finberg suggested a connection between this sketch and Turner’s mezzotint plate The Stork and Aqueduct,3 which was made probably in the early 1820s in connection with his longstanding engraving project, the Liber Studiorum, but not published.4 This suggestion is noted by Gillian Forrester and Anthony Bailey but any connection seems merely superficial; Forrester suggests that the Liber plate might equally be associated with Italy, and it might as easily represent Scotland or some other locality. Any specific connection with Crambe Beck seems unlikely.
Formerly known as ‘Chirk Aqueduct’; Hill 2005, p.93.
Accession number B1975.3.1020.
Forrester, 1996, no.83.
The Liber Studiorum is a series of seventy-one mezzotint plates that were issued in parts between 1807 and 1819. See Gillian Forrester in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, pp.166–9.

David Hill
September 2008

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