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Technique and condition
This pencil and watercolour composition has been executed on white paper. The lighter areas have been washed out, for example the side lighting of the aisles. Very detailed graphite pencil work was used to draw the arch and in this area darker washes of brown ochres were mixed with black. Yellow ochre was used to give ‘golden’ highlights on the tomb, while a brighter yellow lake or possibly gamboge (deep yellow) was used for sunlit areas.
This watercolour is based (with variations) on a drawing in the Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate D01015; Turner Bequest XXXV 12). Despite its impressive atmosphere and rich tonality, and the fact that Turner himself may have given the drawing a stout board backing, it is not a finished work: the rendering of foreground details is generalised, and there are no figures apart from some distant suggestions. A comparison with the highly wrought interiors of Westminster and Ely, which were all exhibited at the Royal Academy (respectively British Museum, London, private collection, Aberdeen Art Gallery),1 points up the technical differences between finished and unfinished works.
Turner made a smaller finished view of the interior of the cathedral;2 it is executed in grey and buff washes over pencil, reinforced with pen and brown ink, and measures 248 x 165 mm. The drawing reappeared on the art market at Christie’s, London, 21 November 2002 (42). It was engraved by S. Porter and published in the 1802 second edition of T. Warton’s Essays on Gothic Architecture (Tate impression: T05939). Here, too, the human figure appears only as a minute and distant contrast to the colossal scale of the architecture.
Blank (formerly laid down).
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After Joseph Mallord William Turner Durham Cathedral, Interior, engraved by Porter