Joseph Mallord William Turner

Canterbury: The West Gate, from the River Stour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 215 × 273 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XV E

Display caption

Canterbury in Kent has a rich Roman and medieval heritage which fascinated antiquarians and artists in the eighteenth century. Turner's watercolour shows the medieval West Gate together with ramshackle working buildings.

Such a combination of the ancient and the rundown was appreciated for its picturesque’ qualities.  But Canterbury was also a prosperous modern town. A round of urban improvements had taken place in 1769, with new paving and street lighting. The West Gate was in fact the only gateway not to be demolished.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

The Church of the Holy Cross is at the right, behind the West Gate; the River Stour is in the foreground. Another view of the West Gate, dating from slightly later, is in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.307 no.56, reproduced.
Technical notes:
The sheet is creased vertically near the centre.
Blank; inscribed in a modern hand ‘12’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

Read full Catalogue entry


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