Joseph Mallord William Turner

Blenheim Palace, the Grand Bridge and the Woodstock Gate


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 12 a

Catalogue entry

As Finberg noted, this series of rough sketches informs the watercolour of Blenheim (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery),1 engraved as Blenheim, Oxfordshire in 1833 for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales. On the right is the south side of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s triumphal Woodstock Gate of 1723,2 with its coupled Corinthian columns, as shown in a repoussoir device at the right of the watercolour. There are slight indications of figures, of which there are a considerable number in the finished design. To the left are three tiers of rapid notations of the view south from that point to Vanbrugh’s Blenheim Palace, and south-west over Queen Pool to the Grand Bridge.
Of several preceding views of the park, Andrew Wilton and Eric Shanes have linked the double-page study on folios 11 verso–12 recto (D21993, D21994) to the watercolour, although the latter is not a direct transcription. There are also two ‘colour beginnings’: Tate D25488 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 365) relates closely to the watercolour, and includes two hounds, prefiguring the pack shown there; Tate D25489 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 366) is less topographically specific, but probably shows a different aspect of the park and lake, this time with deer in the foreground. Shanes has related the latter to the sketches on folios 4 verso–5 recto and 5 verso–6 recto (D21981–D21984).3
For other views of Blenheim and the history of the site, see under folio 2 verso (D21978).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.399 no.846, pl.194.
See ‘Woodstock Gate, Blenheim’, British Listed Buildings, accessed 5 January 2012,
See Eric Shanes, Turner’s Watercolour Explorations 1810–1842, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery 1997, p.53 no.31, reproduced.

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