Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lichfield Cathedral

c.1832

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 365 x 511 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25215
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 93

Catalogue entry

This colour study was identified as showing ‘Lichfield Cathedral’ by A.J. Finberg subsequent to his 1909 Turner Bequest Inventory;1 Andrew Wilton noted that it ‘apparently shows Lichfield and may therefore date from after the Midlands tour of 1830’, and relates it stylistically to Tate D25227 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 105), which shows a spire beyond water.2 A finished watercolour, Lichfield, made in about 1832 (private collection),3 was not engraved for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales, although its format suggests it was produced for the series.
Turner had indeed visited the Staffordshire cathedral in 1830 (see the Kenilworth sketchbook, particularly Tate D22068; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 50a), but based the overall composition on a detailed pencil drawing from the south-west of 1794 (Tate D00365; Turner Bequest XXII L), which bears traces of pink and blue colour, perhaps accidentally deposited during Turner’s work on the present sheet or the finished design. Eric Shanes describes this study as among those ‘created simply to make a scene leap imaginatively and colourfully from a sketchbook page’.4 A ‘colour beginning’ of an alternative view, based on an 1830 sketch, is Tate D25221 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 99).
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
1
MS note in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, p.821; see also Shanes 1979, p.156; and Shanes 1997, pp.27, 96, 105.
2
Wilton 1975, p.74.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.403 no.882, reproduced.
4
Shanes 1997, p.27.
Verso:
Blank, save for an adventitious blot of dark blue-grey watercolour towards the top of the left-hand edge, and inscriptions: in pencil by ?Turner ‘27’ towards centre right, upside down; in pencil ‘AB 93 P’ top left, upside down; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 93’ bottom left; and in pencil ‘CCLXIII 93’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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