Joseph Mallord William Turner

Pontypridd: The Bridge over the River Taf

1798

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 289 x 455 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D01641
Turner Bequest XLI 12

Catalogue entry

Artists as well as engineers were attracted to Pontypridd by its bridge which, when it was built in 1791, was the largest single span in the world. The characteristic oculi at either end were inserted to lighten the masonry after the first bridge collapsed, though they give an impression of having been put there for decorative reasons, in imitation of the design of the famous iron bridge at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, built in 1779.
Despite its importance as an example of modern engineering, Turner drew the Pontypridd bridge only roughly, not subjecting it to the careful examination he accorded the ironworks at Cyfarthfa. He evidently had no commission to make a view of it. However, he made a copy-drawing for the use of pupils (Tate D00843; Turner Bequest XXXI A), which may have been derived from this quick sketch, or from another view of the bridge in the contemporary Swans sketchbook (Tate D01709–D01710; Turner Bequest XLII 34–35).
Technical notes:
The sheet is faded from exposure.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed in a later hand in pencil ‘44’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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