Joseph Mallord William Turner

Netley Abbey, Hampshire

?1832

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D23581
Turner Bequest CCLII 32 a

Catalogue entry

This page is densely packed with sketches of the ruins of Netley Abbey, located about five miles south-east of Southampton. Particular attention has been paid to the effect of intricate Gothic ornament viewed through the trunks of saplings. The left-hand side of the page features an arcade of pointed arches while the right-hand side is occupied by the three stories of the south transept. The site was the subject of particular study in this sketchbook and recurs on multiple pages; see folios 30 verso to 36 verso (D23577–D23589; Turner Bequest 30a–36a).
Netley Abbey was a popular tourist spot in Turner’s lifetime,1 and drew the attention of several artists. Turner himself had sketched this site on an earlier tour back in 1795; see Tate D00429 (Turner Bequest XXIV 22) and D00430 (Turner Bequest XXIV 23). Also in Tate’s collection are watercolours by John Constable (1776–1837), T01147; Francis Towne (1739–1816), T08194; and Samuel Prout (1783–1852), T08540. There are also engravings after pieces by Francis Nicholson (1753–1844), T06437, T06438; and William Westall (1781–1850), T05321.
The ruins of religious buildings were integral to Turner’s artistic interests for much of his career, and are especially associated with his watercolour compositions.2 In the Turner Bequest, these include depictions of Llanthony Abbey (Tate D00679; Turner Bequest XXVII R) and Tintern Abbey (D00374; Turner Bequest XXIII A), both in 1794; Kirkstall Abbey (D18146; Turner Bequest CCVIII M) in 1824; and Marmoutier Abbey (D24583; Turner Bequest CCLIX 18) in about 1826–8.

John Chu
April 2014

1
See John Bullar, A Companion in a Visit to Netley Abbey, Southampton 1818; G.J. Parkyns, Monastic and Baronial Remains, London 1816, vol.I, pp.5–6.
2
See Ruins in British Romantic Art from Wilson to Turner, exhibition catalogue, Nottingham Castle Museum, Nottingham 1988.

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