Joseph Mallord William Turner

St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh

1818

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: 112 x 90 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13462
Turner Bequest CLXVI 7 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the book turned to the right are two churches on the south side of Princes Street in Edinburgh. Most prominent is the Church of St John the Evangelist which was consecrated in March 1818, just seven months before Turner drew it. As he notes, there is indeed a parapet around the building which he has drawn in detail beneath the church, along with architectural details above to the left. The spire to the right of St John’s belongs to St Cuthbert’s Presbyterian Church. Behind the churches can be seen the outline of the New Barracks of Edinburgh Castle sitting atop Castle Rock. The scale of the building, and a sense of Edinburgh street life is offered by the tiny figures that Turner has included on Princes Street.
Turner’s inscription refers to the architecture of St John’s, including the walled burial ground, the parapet above the aisle, and a feature at the corner of what Turner refers to as either ‘old’ or perhaps, if we consider Finberg’s reading, the ‘Col[onna]d[e]’.1

Thomas Ardill
December 2007

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.481, CLXVI 7a.

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