Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Eleanor Cross, Hardingstone, near Northampton

1830

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: 78 x 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D22364
Turner Bequest CCXL 23 a

Catalogue entry

There are two similar sketches on the right, the lower continuing a little way onto folio 24 recto opposite (D24365), and two smaller views at the outer edge, made with the page turned vertically. The main views are of the Eleanor Cross at Hardingstone, Northamptonshire, with Northampton in the distance, about two miles due north. The spire and tower on the skylines are presumably those of Holy Sepulchre Church and All Saints Church in the centre of Northampton, although later development and trees along the London Road now preclude such a view.
The subject was tentatively identified as ‘Queen’s Cross Northampton, or Geddington Cross’ by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) and the watercolour and Turner scholar C.F. Bell (died 1966) in undated manuscript notes in copies of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory.1 Geddington’s Eleanor Cross stands in the square at the centre of the village of that name elsewhere in Northamptonshire, and the Hardingstone cross, albeit now screened by trees to its east and facing modern housing across the road, is clearly the subject here. Turner had made a detailed drawing of it in the Matlock sketchbook when he visited Northampton in 1794 (Tate D00252; Turner Bequest XIX 37a).
Twelve elaborately carved Eleanor Crosses were commissioned by Edward I after the death of his wife Queen Eleanor in Lincolnshire in 1290, marking the nightly resting places of the cortege en route to London, Charing Cross (now marked by a Victorian replica) being the last. Only those at Geddington, Hardingstone and Waltham Cross survive substantially intact;2 Turner had drawn the latter in 1793 (Tate D00355, D00356; Turner Bequest XXII B, C).
There are other sketches of the monument and its vicinity on folio 24 recto opposite, 24 verso and 71 recto (D22365, D22366, D22459). For Turner’s only other identified Northamptonshire sketch on this tour, see folio 17 verso (D22352), showing All Saints Church in Northampton itself.

Matthew Imms
August 2013

1
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, p.739; C.F. Bell, undated MS notes in another copy at the same location, vol.II, p.739.
2
See Nikolaus Pevsner, Northamptonshire, The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1961, pp.236–7.

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