View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
This composition, no doubt intended for copying by the pupils whose names appear in the inscription on the verso, may have been derived from drawings Turner made on tour in South Wales. There is a rapid study of the bridge in its setting in his Swans sketchbook (Tate D01709, D01710; Turner Bequest XLII 34–35), and a drawing in the Cyfarthfa sketchbook (Tate D01641; Turner Bequest XLI 12) is a view of the bridge in a rolling landscape; both were done on the Welsh tour of 1798.
This copy-drawing is couched in a simpler Picturesque format, with the bridge placed centrally between balanced repoussoirs, and may belong to a year or two earlier, though its assured, free manner is consistent with a date around 1798. We have no evidence that Turner passed through Pontypridd on his South Wales tour of 1795, but he may have taken his design from a print or a drawing by another artist. The stone bridge, which spans the River Taff, was famous as the longest single-arch span in the world when it was built by William Edwards in 1756.
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Pont ye-Prydd | Glamorganshire | Sarah Susannah [?Smart] | Fanny Br[...]’, with colour trials