Joseph Mallord William Turner

Buxton from the North-West; the Cupola and Other Details of St John the Baptist’s Church, Buxton


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 56 a

Catalogue entry

As Ian Warrell has noted, the main view shows Buxton from the north-west, with the cupola of St John the Baptist’s Church, the north-west side of the Duke of Devonshire’s stables to the left and the Crescent beyond.1 The stables, subsequently (with the addition of a vast dome) the Devonshire Royal Hospital, now house the Buxton campus of the University of Derby.2 The viewpoint is in the vicinity of Corbar Hill; there has since been much development in the valley north of the church, which is obscured by the trees immediately adjacent to the north and west.
Above the general view is a series of disjointed details of St John’s, made with the page turned vertically: at the top the cupola; second, an unresolved detail of a pediment; third, a portico and columns, which appears to be at the east end in its original open state (which would have reminded Turner of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, London, his local church as a child), before it was filled in leaving the columns half projecting – see the Francis Frith photograph of its original form (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, E.208:592–1994); and at the bottom a loose sketch of another aspect, perhaps the north or south front. Turner has noted the classical order as Tuscan. For other views of Buxton and the landscape to its east see under folio 52 verso (D22246).
Eric Shanes has noted this as a ‘similar church’ to that shown in a ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25374; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 252), although any resemblance is probably fortuitous.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Ian Warrell, notes from 1993 and later in Tate catalogue files.
See ‘About the Dome’, At the Dome, accessed 29 October 2013,

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