Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lichfield Cathedral from the South-West


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 120 x 203 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 50 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the elaborate medieval west front of Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire, is seen from the south-west, with the south transept and crossing spire beyond. There are separate drawings of the latter and one of the two western spires at the right. Turner may have drawn the west front from one spot in the Close before moving nearer to the south-west tower to add the view along the south front to the central tower.
A finished watercolour, Lichfield, made in about 1832 (private collection),1 was not engraved for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales, although its format suggests it was produced for the series. Although the angle of the cathedral there is comparable with the aspect shown in the present sketch, Turner based the overall composition on a detailed pencil drawing from the south-west made among other Lichfield views in 1794 (Tate D00365; Turner Bequest XXII L); the latter has houses in the foreground and bears traces of pink and blue colour, perhaps accidentally deposited during Turner’s work on the watercolour. There is a related colour study (Tate D25215; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 93).
There are other Lichfield views on folios 51 recto opposite and 51 verso (D22069, D22070), and on folio 52 recto (D22071; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 51b), and also in the smaller Birmingham and Coventry sketchbook, used on the same tour (Tate D22378–D22381, D22383, D22384; CCXL 30a, 31, 31a, 32, 33, 33a), the last of which also relates to the watercolour.

Matthew Imms
August 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.403 no.882, reproduced; the likely England and Wales connection had been noted in Finberg 1909, II, p.731; see also Shanes 1979, p.156.

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