Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Usk: Part of the Castle Ruins, with the Bridge Beyond

1798

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: 174 x 125 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D01739
Turner Bequest XLII 64

Catalogue entry

The drawing is continued on folio 33 recto opposite (D01740; Turner Bequest XLII 65). The identification of the subject is based on the reading of the initial inscribed on that page as ‘U’. It could also possibly be ‘W’. There are drawings at Usk in the 1798 Cyfarthfa sketchbook (Tate D01665, D01668, D01674; Turner Bequest XLI 32, 35, 41). Finberg says that the subject is a ‘ruined priory’,1 but it is not clear whether he had any evidence for this identification.
Although the left-hand part of the view, with the bridge and distant mountain, seems carefully observed, the foreground structure is oddly incoherent, as though Turner had developed it almost at random, or from memory. Turner scholar C.F. Bell considered that this drawing and those on the following three openings showed the same place,2 but this is not obvious, and whereas this drawing is inscribed ‘U’ or ‘W’, that on folios 35 verso–36 recto (D01745–D01746; Turner Bequest XLI 70–71) is inscribed ‘O’, as are the drawings on folios 36 verso–37 recto and 37 verso–38 recto (D01747–D01750; Turner Bequest XLI 72–73, 74–75).

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.104.
2
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, I, p.104.

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