Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Study of a Cloudy Sky over the Pagoda at Kew; Trees by the River Thames with ?Richmond Bridge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 162 × 98 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 3 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, there are four sketches here, separated by horizontal pencil lines. At the top, occupying nearly half the page, is a rapidly drawn and annotated study of clouds arrayed, probably at sunset, over the silhouette of the stepped 1762 Chinese-style pagoda in Kew Gardens, north of Richmond beside the River Thames west of London. Despite Turner’s long familiarity with and frequent depictions of the area (see the ‘Thames Sketchbooks c.1804–14’ section of the present catalogue), this seems to be his sole depiction of the landmark, which is nearly 50 metres tall (163 feet).1 For other sky studies, see the entry for the inside of the front cover (D40961).
Below are three similar studies of trees beside the Thames, probably with Richmond Bridge in the distance, seen from the north-west with the ait or eyot now called Corporation Island just downstream and Richmond Hill, a frequent subject, beyond. Folio 4 verso (D17841) is inscribed ‘Richmond [?Eyte]’; see also the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See ‘Pagoda’, Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, accessed 9 December 2014,

Read full Catalogue entry

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