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

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
D22173
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 13

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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