Joseph Mallord William Turner Shrewsbury from the South-East, across the English Bridge over the River Severn, with Details of the Infirmary and Bridge ?1831

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Shrewsbury from the South-East, across the English Bridge over the River Severn, with Details of the Infirmary and Bridge
From Worcester and Shrewsbury Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX
Date ?1831
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
D22173
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 13
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Catalogue entry

There is a similar prospect of Shrewsbury on folio 12 verso opposite (D22172), under which other views are discussed. Here Turner has moved slightly south-west along the east bank of the River Severn, showing the head-on aspect of the seven-arched English Bridge, built in 1768–74 by local architect John Gwynne, and widened in 1926.1 He has also drawn a detail of the classical central arch with its pediment (and the arch to its left) below, annotating the carved head on the central keystone. In an undated manuscript note, Finberg (died 1939) added ‘?Juno JPH’ as a reading of the penultimate word of Turner’s inscription, apparently citing the etcher and collector John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929),2 although rather than the Roman goddess the word seems to indicate ‘Severn’ followed by ‘crownd’, as a personification of the river. At the bottom left is a detail of one of the dolphins carved tail-up on the piers.
In the distance of the main view are the tower of St Julian’s Church (now St Julian’s Centre), and the spires of St Alkmund’s Church and St Mary the Virgin’s Church. To their right, and repeated in the sky above, is the Royal Salop Infirmary. This was noted as ‘the infirmary’ by Finberg and the watercolour and Turner scholar C.F. Bell (died 1966) in undated manuscript notes in copies of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory.3 Built between 1826 and 1830 in Greek Revival style by E.H. Haycock, it must have been conspicuous on the skyline when Turner recorded it here shortly afterwards; the hospital closed in the 1970s and now houses the Parade Shopping Centre.4

Matthew Imms
April 2014

1
See Nikolaus Pevsner, Shropshire, The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1958, pp.270–1.
2
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, on a blank interleaved page opposite p.734.
3
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, p.734; C.F. Bell, undated MS notes in another copy at the same location, vol.II, p.734.
4
See ‘The History: Royal Salop Infirmary’, The Parade Shopping Centre, accessed 26 September 2013, http://www.paradeshops.co.uk/The-History/p124/c39.

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