Joseph Mallord William Turner

Coventry: The Spires of St Michael’s and Holy Trinity Churches


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 68 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXL 15 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the page turned vertically, the spires of St Michael’s Church (the old Coventry Cathedral; see also folio 14 verso; D22346) and Holy Trinity Church are seen looking west from Priory Street. This view to Holy Trinity (see also folio 9 verso; D22336) is now obscured by the modern Coventry Cathedral, build running north from the bombed ruins of the old. The spires must have been drawn from slightly different viewpoints, as Turner has brought the further church nearer into line with the nearer than in reality, Holy Trinity being a little further north than implied here, and thus further to the right in relation to St Michael’s; an 1849 painting by David Gee (1793–1872) shows the two buildings from the east in their true juxtaposition (Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry).
Turner may have consulted this page in representing the spires in his watercolour Coventry of about 1832 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1833 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impression: T06105).2 An isolated study of Christchurch, the third of the city’s prominent spires, appears on folio 12 recto (D22341). For other Coventry views, see under D22336.
To the left of the spires are light pencil lines possibly indicating a landscape drawn with the page turned horizontally, although the subject is difficult to make out and was presumably abandoned.

Matthew Imms
August 2013

Wilton 1979, p.399 no.849, reproduced.
See Wilton 1975, p.123, Wilton 1979, p.399, and Sloan 1998, p.100.

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