Joseph Mallord William Turner

View from Blackheath with St Paul’s Cathedral in the Distance

1796–7

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 x 93 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D01121
Turner Bequest XXXVII 4

Catalogue entry

The composition continues across folio 3 recto opposite (D01122; Turner Bequest XXXVII 5). Other drawings in this book corroborate that Turner was making studies of the views from the hills to the south-east of London: Greenwich, Blackheath and Nunhead. This is no doubt from one such viewpoint. Compare folios 3 verso–4 recto, 25 verso–26 recto and 28 verso–29 recto (D01123–D01124, D01167–D01168, D01173–D01174; Turner Bequest XXXVII 6–7, 50–51, 56–57). Although it is fairly clearly a study of a specific place, with the rutted road going over the hill to the left, the turbulent atmosphere suggests a grander, more dramatic reference. The composition is reminiscent of Turner’s ideas for a Biblical subject in his Dolbadarn sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest XLVI), perhaps for his lost painting The Army of the Medes destroyed in the Desart [sic] by a Whirlwind – foretold by Jeremiah, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801.1

Andrew Wilton
September 2012

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, New Haven and London 1978, revised edition 1984, pp.13–15 no.15.

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