Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Ely Cathedral: The Interior of the Octagon' 1794

Joseph Mallord William Turner
Ely Cathedral: The Interior of the Octagon 1794
Pencil on paper
support: 782 x 593 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

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Drawn from Turner

Stephen Farthing After Turner Ely Cathedral: The Interior of the Octagon 1794

Stephen Farthing
After Turner Ely Cathedral: The Interior of the Octagon 1794

Stephen Farthing RA, University of the Arts London

Stephen Farthing RA is currently Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing at the University of Arts London. He studied at St Martin’s School of Art, London (1969-73) before taking his Masters Degree in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London (1973-76). In 1976 he was awarded an Abbey Major Scholarship, at The British School at Rome for a year from 1976. In 1989 he was Artist in Residence at the Hayward Gallery, London. From 1990-2000 he was Ruskin Master at the Ruskin School of Drawing, and from 2000-2004, he was executive director of the New York Academy of Art. 

A complete biography is available at the Royal Academy website. 

I chose to work with this large and obsessively detailed drawing because I wanted to see if I could sustain my interest in what at first sight appeared to be a mass of very neatly drawn but not very mysterious lines. Over the seven or so hours it took to complete the drawing the process of following Turner’s hand became more, not less, interesting. 

What took up most of my time was trying to work out how he made the drawing. During the last couple of hours, I began to suspect that he might have used a French curve as a guide; so I finished my drawing using one.