J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Firework Display 1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 47 Recto:
A Firework Display 1831
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 47
Pencil on white wove paper, 74 x 94 mm
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘47’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIV – 47’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg has read this lively but somewhat obscure sketch as depicting a fireworks display.1 If this is correct, and the sketch was made during Turner’s 1831 tour, then it is likely that it was held as part of the celebrations for the Coronation of William IV, which took place on 8 September 1831.2 The scene shows a street with trees at the centre and a building at the right. The ‘fireworks’ are indicated with lines, dots and scribbled shapes in the sky. There may be an inscription at the bottom of the page, though it is illegible.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Finberg 1909, II, p.849.
A fireworks display was held on Glasgow Green to celebrate the coronation around this time. (‘Announcement of fireworks display’, MS, Glasgow University Library).

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘A Firework Display 1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2009, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-firework-display-r1133974, accessed 21 August 2017.