Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Spire of Christchurch, Coventry; the Head of a Woman in a Bonnet or Mob Cap

c.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: 110 x 68 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D22341
Turner Bequest CCXL 12

Catalogue entry

Both the sketches here were made with the page turned vertically. At the bottom left is the spire and upper tower of Christchurch, Coventry; only the tower and spire now stand, off New Union Street. These elements of the original church, the Greyfriars, had survived Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, and the construction of a new church, added onto the tower, had begun in March 1830, shortly before Turner’s visit. However, the main body of the new church, opened in 1832, was destroyed in an air raid in April 1941.1 For other Coventry views, see under folio 9 verso (D22336).
Andrew Wilton has related this sketch and that on the verso (D22342) to the possible study on folio 7 recto (D22333) for the oil painting Jessica, exhibited in 1830 (Tate T03887; displayed at Petworth House, West Sussex),2 as perhaps ‘initial ideas for this or other works of the same kind’.3
Ian Warrell describes the drawings here and on the verso (D22342) as ‘a couple of portrait studies of young women, possibly Turner’s travelling companions, demonstrating his susceptibility to female charms’, comparing the sketches to one in the Arundel and Shoreham sketchbook (Tate D22872; Turner Bequest CCXLV 54a),4 inscribed ‘Brown Eyes’.
For other figure studies in this sketchbook, see under folio 1 verso (D22324).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

1
See [Rob Orland], ‘Christchurch, New Union Street’, Historic Coventry, accessed 1 July 2013, http://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/tour/christchurch.php .
2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.186–7 no.333, pl.333 (colour)
3
Wilton 1989, p.21.
4
Warrell 2003, p.23.

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