Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Interior of the Crossing and North Transept of Fountains Abbey


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View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 179 x 254 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXIV 64

Catalogue entry

As David Hill has noted, the view is of Abbot Huby’s Tower, which rises from the outer part of the north transept of Fountains Abbey. The viewpoint is the south transept, looking over the crossing with the nave,1 and this sketch2 was closely followed in Turner’s watercolour (private collection), dated by Andrew Wilton to about 1819, the year of its first exhibition.3
The ruined North Yorkshire abbey stands a little to the south-west of Ripon, and about fourteen miles north of Farnley Hall (see under folio 1 verso; D09790). It had been incorporated into the Studley Royal Water Garden in the 1760s, and the whole is now a World Heritage Site in the care of the National Trust.4 There are views of the abbey in both sketchbooks used by Turner on his North of England tour in 1797: North of England (Tate D00927, D01000; Turner Bequest XXXIV 21, 89) and Tweed and Lakes (Tate D01010, D01082; Turner Bequest XXXV 7, 80); there is also a 1798 watercolour of the abbey’s dormitory (York Art Gallery).5
In the present book there are plans of the abbey on folios 40 recto and 41 recto (D09837; Turner Bequest CXXXIV 42, 43), and a distant view of the church on folio 44 recto (D09864; Turner Bequest CXXXIV 63). For other drawings which may have been made on the same occasion, see David Hill’s comments in the present catalogue under Tate D10936 (Turner Bequest CXLIV 37) in the Yorkshire 1 sketchbook, which he dates to 1816;6 see also Tate D11384 (Turner Bequest CXLVI 10) in the contemporary Yorkshire 3 sketchbook. Other Yorkshire subjects in the present book are noted in the Introduction.
Hill and others 1980, p.30.
See ibid., and Shanes in Shanes, Joll, Warrell and others 2000, p.138.
Wilton 1979, p.362 no.546, reproduced; unspecified ‘drawings [sic] of the interior of Fountains Abbey’ in this sketchbook are mentioned.
See ‘Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden’, National Trust, accessed 27 June 2014,
Wilton 1979, p.326 no.238, reproduced.
See also Hill 1996, p.38.
Technical notes:
There is some staining towards the top left.
Blank, save for inscription by John Ruskin in red ink ‘927’ bottom right

Matthew Imms
July 2014

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