Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Bridge and Cottage, Probably in South Devon


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 95 × 157 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXI 27

Catalogue entry

As Sam Smiles has noted, this bridge ‘appears to be the same’1 as that shown in one of Turner’s 1813 Devon oil sketches (Tate D09212; Turner Bequest CXXX F),2 where the other face of the bridge is shown sunlit on the right, receding towards the cottage on the left on the opposite bank. Dark foliage covering the gable end and chimney, carefully shaded in the drawing, is also recorded in the painting; this and the configuration of the bridge’s two arches (with shadows cast at similar angles by the high sun) and its low parapet make the link between the two compositions effectively certain.
Drawn with the page turned horizontally, the site has not been identified, but was presumably in South Devon, along with known subjects within striking distance of Turner’s temporary base at Plymouth (see the Introduction to the 1813 tour).3 Smiles has suggested other cases of drawings and oil sketches being made in the same Devon localities – see under folios 69 recto and 72 recto (D09292, D09295). The present study is reproduced by Cook and Kirk as an example of Turner’s sketching practice, without proposing a direct link to the various Tamar studies in the 1814 Devon Rivers, No.1 sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CXXXII).
The subjects as far as folio 127 recto (D09358) are all identified or presumed sites within a few miles in and around Plymouth, suggesting a series of fairly short excursions.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Smiles 1989, p.26 note 19.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.133 no.218, pl.219 (colour).
See also Smiles 1989, pp.10–26, and Butlin and Joll pp.131–5 nos.213–225b.

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