Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Magnus the Martyr’s Church, near London Bridge; ?the Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral

c.1827

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: 110 x 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20748
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 10 a

Catalogue entry

Subsequent to Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, both he and the Turner scholar C.F. Bell refined the identification there by noting the presence of ‘St Magnus Church’.1 As observed in the technical notes below, the drawing is disrupted by rubbing and offsetting. On the left there is a view of St Magnus the Martyr’s Church, on Lower Thames Street just north-east of London Bridge, recognisable by its cupola and spire; considerable redevelopment in the immediate area, particularly after bomb damage in the Second World War, makes the viewpoint uncertain. The shaded form to the right of centre may be a separate view of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, north-west of the church, but not directly visible from it then or now.
Turner had first drawn the church in about 1794, showing it from the River Thames at Old London Bridge (Tate D00695, D00696; Turner Bequest XXVIII J, K), which was in the course of being replaced by a new structure just upstream by the mid 1820s; the spire is seen beyond the new bridge on folio 12 recto (D20751) and on numerous occasions in the sketchbooks charting the construction work detailed in the ‘Thames, London and South of England 1821–7’ section of this catalogue.
The particular occasion for the present sketch is undetermined, but the area was very familiar to Turner and he may have been embarking or returning on a journey by way of the river. Other views in the vicinity are on folios 11 recto opposite, where St Paul’s appears in the distance, 11 verso and 12 verso (D20749, D20750, D20752), and on folio 34 verso (D20784; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 32a), another study of the new bridge. There are also numerous drawings in this sketchbook upriver on the rural Thames around Hampton Court, as noted under folio 2 verso (D20736).
1
Undated MS notes by Finberg (died 1939) and C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copies of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, p.699.
Technical notes:
The surface of this detailed drawing is badly rubbed, with watercolour offsetting from the grey ground used to prepare folio 11 recto opposite (D20749).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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