Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bridge Over the South Esk River at Dalkeith; and a Figure Carrying a Sack

1818

Not on display
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 90 x 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13580
Turner Bequest CLXVI 67 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the sketchbook inverted are two sketches of a bridge over a river, and, with the page turned to the left, a sketch of a woman carrying a sack over her shoulder. The first sketch, though rather rough, is fully realised as a landscape composition, and looks along the bridge in order to draw the eye into the landscape. Turner has noted that the ‘Bridge’ crosses the ‘South Esk’ river at ‘Dal[keith]’. From this sketch just two of the arches (and a buttress, marked ‘B’) of the bridge are visible, but the rapid sketch beneath (continuing on the left to folio 68; D13581) shows that it has three or four arches. This second view is less realised than the first, and was presumably made to remind Turner of the scale of the bridge rather than to provide a composition like the first.
The figure at the top left of the page belongs to a series of similar studies on folios 66 verso–67 (D13578–D13579). Although a very slight sketch it is clear that the figure is wearing a pleated skirt and bonnet, and is carrying a plaid sack, or net. Many of the figures in the 1818 Scottish sketchbooks are shown carrying baskets or sacks (for example, Bass Rock and Edinburgh sketchbook, Tate D13435; Turner Bequest CLXV 62), demonstrating Turner’s interest in portraying work in the places that he visited.

Thomas Ardill
January 2008

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