Joseph Mallord William Turner Newbridge, Gunnislake and the Tamar Valley towards Calstock Church ?1813

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Newbridge, Gunnislake and the Tamar Valley towards Calstock Church
From Vale of Heathfield Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CXXXVII
Date ?1813
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 181 x 228 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D10273
Turner Bequest CXXXVII 47 a
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Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint is the Cornish bank of the meandering River Tamar, looking south across medieval Newbridge, with Gunnislake on the right, Chimney Rock on the Devon side on the left, and Calstock Church on the skyline at the centre. The composition relates closely to the middle distance of Turner’s large, vertical painting Crossing the Brook, exhibited in 1815 (Tate N00497).1 As Diana Cook and Dorothy Kirk have shown, the prominent building on the right and the smaller one beyond the right-hand pier of the bridge were granaries, the larger being known as the ‘Caledonia’.2 Beyond them, on the hillside south of Gunnislake, are waterwheels associated with the Gunnislake East Mine, comprising Gullet’s Shaft, Red Whim Shaft and Footway Shaft.3 The sketch is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation.
There is a less detailed view, from between trees a little higher up and further away, on folio 49 verso (D10271; CXXXVII 46a). Although the present sketch is quite precise, the granary building and setting are accurately shown in greater detail in the painting,4 suggesting that Turner may have worked from a further sketch, not now identified. The painting combines the aspects recorded here, on folio 49 verso with its wooded foreground, and on folio 51 recto opposite (D10274; CXXXVII 48) with its hills receding towards the horizon ‘above’ and beyond Calstock.
There are views of the ‘Caledonia’ granary and Newbridge from the east on folios 47 verso and 48 verso (D10267, D10269; CXXXVII 44a, 45a). The sketchbook contains numerous views in and around the Tamar and Tavy valleys between folios 46 verso (D10265; CXXXVII 43a) and 58 verso (D10289; CXXXVII 55a), probably made in the summer of 1813 in conjunction with those in the smaller Devon Rivers, No.1 sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CXXXII). The latter is covered in the section of the present catalogue specifically devoted to Turner’s 1813 visit to Devon, where further information on Turner’s work in the locality will be found.

Matthew Imms
May 2011

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.93–4 no.130, pl.123 (colour).
2
See Cook and Kirk 2009, pp.16–23, including vintage photographs.
3
Ibid., p.21.
4
See ibid., pp.17–21, 23, 49.

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