Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats and a Ship in the Pool of London near Old London Bridge, with St Paul’s Cathedral Beyond


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 10

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, Turner has made various sketches, juxtaposed at random, of shipping and associated figures in the Pool of London in the vicinity of Old London Bridge, which is seen in the distance at the top with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral beyond to the north-west. At the bottom is an inverted skyline, possibly including the shot tower then on the south bank near the bridge.
There are slight strokes of grey and blue watercolour at the bottom left. Ian Warrell has suggested that these relate to the production of the 1824 watercolour known as The Port of London (Victoria and Albert Museum, London),1 engraved in 1827 as Old London Bridge and Vicinity (Tate impression: T06070); see the overall Introduction to the present Thames-related section. The complex jumble of shipping and figures in the foreground of that composition would have been informed by details such as those recorded here.2
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river around the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the book’s Introduction.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.514, reproduced.
See Warrell 1991, p.41.
Technical notes:
There are adventitious strokes of watercolour at the bottom left, as discussed above. Compare the similar marks on folio 9 verso opposite (D17851) and folios 11 recto, 20 verso and 34 verso (D17854, D17873, D17893).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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