Joseph Mallord William Turner

Staging and Piledrivers on the River Thames above Old London Bridge, with St Magnus the Martyr’s Church and the Monument Beyond


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 x 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 22 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this study focuses on an array of piledrivers upstream of the southern end of Old London Bridge, preparing for the coffer-dams out of which the piers of the bridge’s replacement would rise; work began in March 1824, suggesting Turner drew these preliminary operations that spring or summer. In the distance to the north-east are the Monument and the tower of St Magnus the Martyr’s Church, and the artist has established a formal rhythm between these distant vertical features and those in the foreground.
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river around the bridge, and are all likely to date from 1824; see the Introduction.
Technical notes:
There is some brown mottling, perhaps from proximity to the watercolour study on folio 23 recto opposite (D17878); a stroke of watercolour from the latter has strayed over the gutter here towards the top left.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


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