Catalogue entry

523. [N01992] The Thames above Waterloo Bridge c. 1830–5


Canvas, 35 5/8 × 47 5/8 (90·5 × 121)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1906.

Exh. Venice and Rome 1948 (43); Rotterdam 1955 (60); Edinburgh 1968 (3); R.A. 1974–5 (435).

Lit. MacColl 1920, p. 31.

Datable for stylistic reasons to the early 1830s, it is just possible that this was projected as Turner's answer to Constable's picture of Waterloo Bridge from Whitehall Stairs, June 18th, 1817, exhibited at the R.A. in 1832. The effect of smoke-belching industry contrasts with the sparkling clear atmosphere of the Constable, and a large twin-funnelled steam-boat replaces the royal yacht. The possibility of Turner setting out to rival this particular Constable is reinforced by the incident that took place during the 1832 Varnishing Days, when Turner's Helvoetsluys, a relatively subdued picture, was hung next to Constable's painting (see No. 345).

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984