Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shrewsbury Abbey and the Old Infirmary

?1831

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 191 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D22276
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 68 a

Catalogue entry

The traditional title of this drawing, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, was suggested by Finberg’s reading of Turner’s inscription as ‘The Abbey Mill’, which was amended by crossing out the last word in undated manuscript notes by Finberg himself (died 1939) and the watercolour and Turner scholar C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copies of the 1909 Turner Bequest Inventory.1 In fact, Turner seems to have written ‘Inf’ for infirmary, as the building he shows is the Old Infirmary of Shrewsbury Abbey, the west end of which is seen just beyond. The left-hand two thirds of the hospital were demolished in 1836 to make way for a new road. Its original state is recorded in a watercolour of the Abbey and Guesthouse, Shrewsbury by Paul Braddon (pseudonym of J.L. Crees, 1864–1938; Shrewsbury Museums Service), presumably based on earlier sources.2
Turner’s viewpoint is now somewhere under the railway viaduct running north-south on this side of the abbey, although a close approximation is the corner of Abbey Foregate and Old Potts Way. The rest of the infirmary survives, with a walled garden to its left and beyond, as part of the headquarters of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Whitehall house, not far to the east, is shown on the recto (D22275). For other views of Shrewsbury, see under folio 24 recto (D22182).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

1
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, p.736; C.F. Bell, undated MS notes in another copy at the same location, vol.II, p.736.
2
Reproduced at ‘Shrewsbury Abbey’, Darwin Country, accessed 26 September 2013, http://www.darwincountry.org/explore/000555.html.

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