Joseph Mallord William Turner

Barnstaple Bridge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 90 × 152 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXII 66

Display caption

Turner visited Barnstaple in 1813 and sketched its bridge and the wide reaches of the river Taw on several pages in this sketchbook. He developed no.39 from a synthesis of those sketches. As he could not be bothered to draw every arch of the sixteen-arched bridge in the present sketch, he merely recorded twelve of its spans and economically appended the number '16' underneath. To the right of the bridge may be seen the broach-spire of the church of St Peter and St Paul which is still twisted out of shape by the weight of its own lead.

Gallery label, February 1997

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