Joseph Mallord William Turner

Whalley Abbey Seen across the River Calder


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 225 x 329 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLV 34 a

Display caption

Turner went to Whalley, near Blackburn in Lancashire, in the autumn of 1799. He had been commissioned to design illustrations for the Rev TD Whittaker's History of the Parish of Whalley published in 1800–01. This sketch shows him exploring the picturesque potential of the medieval abbey at Whalley. By the time Turner visited it, the building had fallen into disrepair.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the page turned horizontally, this was used as the basis for the finished watercolour (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),1 engraved in 1800 for Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s History of Whalley (Tate impression: T05929). The Abbey was a Cistercian house, first consecrated in 1306, with construction continuing throughout the fourteenth century. The view is taken from the Long Walk on the left or town bank of the river. The inner, or north-east, gatehouse, of 1480, is visible at the right, beyond the mill. The house to its left is known as the Abbot’s Lodging. Further drawings of Whalley Abbey in this book are on folios 31 verso and 35 verso (D01961, D01969), and folios 44 recto and 45 recto (D01983, D01984; Turner Bequest XLV 43, 44).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.332 no.289, reproduced.

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