Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Distant View of York from the West-South-West, near Holgate Windmill


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 × 200 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLVI 2 a

Catalogue entry

This is the right half of a double-page spread continued from folio 3 recto (D11375) opposite, recording a minutely observed panorama of York as seen from the west-south-west about two hundred metres to the north-west of Holgate windmill. Working across the middle distance of the panorama from left to right it is possible to make out a number of features. Marygate can be seen over the line of the River Ouse with St Olave’s Church and Marygate Postern. York Minster rises over the city, and Lendal Tower is by the river below right. Further right, just to the left of a plume of smoke, is the tower of St Martin Le Grand, Coney Street (with an enlarged detail above), and slightly more distant and to left, is the tower of St Helen, Davygate.
To the right of the plume of smoke can be seen the tower of St Croix, Pavement1 (with an enlarged detail above), then the spire of All Saints, North Street (with an enlarged detail above) and the tower of All Saints, Pavement (with an enlarged detail above). Below the buildings we can see the west wall of the city stretching away above open ground running right to Micklegate Bar. Rather inconveniently Micklegate Bar itself falls into the gutter of the book between the two pages, so Turner has sketched an enlarged detail at the top of the present page. The view continues to the right to bring in Holgate windmill, and to take in something of the view south-east towards the Knavesmire. Two small postmills close together can be seen in that area beyond the right side of Holgate mill, and another windmill, possibly Lamel Hill windmill, the same as that drawn on the following double-page spread (folios 3 verso–4 recto; D11376–D11377), is noted on the higher ground in the distance to the left of Holgate mill.
Holgate mill was built in 1770 and was still grinding corn in 1933. Soon after, it was completely encircled by suburban housing and left marooned in the middle of a roundabout, but over recent years has been restored. It is significant for its elegant waisted tower, five double-shuttered sails and fantail, but from Turner’s drawing it would appear that it was a different construction in 1816. The tower was more portly, there seems to have been six simple sails, and the fantail was of a different design.

David Hill
January 2009

Demolished 1883.

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