Joseph Mallord William Turner

Birmingham from the East; Kenilworth Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 120 × 203 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 26 a

Catalogue entry

On the skyline are the spires of St Martin’s-in-the-Bullring and Christ Church (built in the early nineteenth century and demolished in 1899), and the dome of St Philip’s Church (later Birmingham Cathedral). The general prospect closely corresponds with Turner’s watercolour of Birmingham from the east in about 1794 (untraced),1 engraved in 1795 for the Copper-Plate Magazine (Tate impressions: T05890, T05891), albeit with the additions of Christ Church and the many industrial chimneys seen in the middle distance here.
The subject was first identified as Birmingham by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) and the watercolour and Turner scholar C.F. Bell (died 1966) in undated manuscript notes in copies of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory.2 For other views of Birmingham, see under folio 3 verso (D21980).
At the bottom right is a rough sketch of Kenilworth Castle, perhaps from the south-east, made with the page turned vertically. It belongs with the sequence of rough sketches of the castle on folio 27 recto opposite (D22024; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 27).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.311 no.92.
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, p.730; C.F. Bell, undated MS notes in another copy at the same location, vol.II, p.730.

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