Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dinas Brân and Llangollen from the River Dee


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 × 332 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVIII 57

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes cites this drawing1 as the basis for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales watercolour design (private collection),2 engraved in 1837 (Tate impression: T04609); but although some salient features of the watercolour are present here, many of the details differ considerably. For instance, the parish church at Llangollen, which is visible at the far right here, appears above the viaduct in the centre of the finished composition. Further, the watercolour shows the new viaduct across the Dee, while this drawing records the old bridge and buildings near it which are not present in the finished work (and had actually been demolished by the 1830s). Another drawing including the old bridge is on folio 92 recto (D01313; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 59). The steep hill to the left of centre in the watercolour is entirely absent from the drawing, and introduces a distance between town and spectator that suggests a wholly imaginary viewpoint.
The coloured study on the next page, folio 90 recto (D01350; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 96), seems to record the view from a position only a few feet farther along the river bank, showing, for instance, Dinas Brân rising behind the same hill as appears in the left foreground of the present drawing. See also folio 91 recto (D01312; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 58). Turner had visited Llangollen on his Midland tour of 1794 and may have used notes made then, although the only surviving drawing made on the spot at that time is the partial study of Llangollen Bridge (Tate D00333; Turner Bequest XXI G); see also the finished watercolour made immediately after that tour (Tate D00861; Turner Bequest XXXII E).
Shanes 1979, p.155.
Wilton 1979, p.402 no.872, reproduced.
Blank; grey paint smears; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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