Joseph Mallord William Turner

Llandaff: The West Front of the Cathedral

1795–6

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 356 x 255 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D00686
Turner Bequest XXVIII A

Display caption

Turner shows several figures in a graveyard. Two girls are dancing on a tombstone to a fiddler's tune. Turner's use of such a motif in this context is a telling allusion to Time and the contrast between Life and Death. Through it, Turner links himself to a tradition of graveyard meditations which embraces Edward Young and Thomas Gray (no.48). With Turner, as with Blake (see no.49), the way this tradition could inform the Romantic sensibility and even touch life itself can be seen in both artist's associations with Westminster Abbey. In a 1793 watercolour of the interior of the Abbey, Turner's signature is put as an inscription on a floor slab as though it is his own tombstone.

Gallery label, August 2004

Technique and condition

Catalogue entry