Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bridge over the River Dart at Totnes

1811

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Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 170 x 209 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08854
Turner Bequest CXXIV 39

Catalogue entry

Turner shows the old medieval structure on the east side of Totnes, replaced in 1826 by a three-arched bridge1 which remains the last crossing on the River Dart, still tidal at this point, before the sea some ten miles to the south-east. As he noted on folio 38 recto (D08853), Turner was approaching Totnes from the north by the Newton Abbott road, which runs beside the river, now largely screened by trees at this point.
The town’s northern by-pass now crosses on a modern bridge about half-way towards the old one from this viewpoint, and the east bank of the river is occupied by industrial buildings and a car park. In the sketch on folio 40 recto (D08855), Turner looks to his right from the same spot or nearby to draw the town’s church and castle, up the hill west of the bridge.
1
Nikolaus Pevsner, South Devon, The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1952, p.298.
Technical notes:
A long tear from the centre to the right-hand edge has been repaired. There is prominent black offsetting in two parallel lines affecting the drawing towards the top right, apparently from some sort of implement about 37 mm wide with a regularly serrated edge, and a number of associated flecks of black.
Verso:
Blank. There is a small blue stain at the bottom right.

Matthew Imms
February 2011

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