Joseph Mallord William Turner

Durham Cathedral: The Interior, Looking East along the South Aisle


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 758 × 579 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVI G

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Since 1794 Turner's depictions of architecture had become increasingly sublime as he strove to recreate the sense of awe imposed on the visitor by the immense structures of England's cathedrals. For this type of watercolour he evolved a sophisticated technique of scratching away or lifting out colour to introduce light into the sombre interior. This view manages to suggest the towering grandeur of Durham's distinctive architecture, while at the same time creating a sense of depth by choosing a viewpoint of overlapping and interconnected spaces. Turner executed another interior view of Durham Cathedral, which was engraved to illustrate a volume of essays (see no.65 in the nearby showcase).

Gallery label, August 2004

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