Joseph Mallord William Turner

Egglestone Abbey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVI 34 a

Catalogue entry

In 1831 Turner made his third visit to Egglestone Abbey. He had visited in 1797 during his tour of the north of England and again in 1816 when he sketched it in preparation for a design for Whitaker’s History of Richmondshire: Egglestone Abbey, near Barnard Castle 1818 (watercolour, private collection).1 This time he had not been commissioned to make a picture of the abbey, but still made half a dozen sketches for his own purposes. He was in the area to make new sketches of Rokeby and the Greta in preparation for Scott illustrations, and passed the abbey between Barnard Castle and Rokeby.
With the sketchbook turned to the right, the view at the top of the page is of the abbey ruins from the south and so shows the nave and the single remaining wall of the south transept. Beneath that is a view, probably from the south-east, with the east window that can be seen more clearly in the sketch on folio 33 verso (D25826). The final sketch of the abbey is from the south and looks into the ruins through the missing section of the south transept.
At the bottom of the page is a sketch of several two-storey connected buildings. These are likely to be the paper mill run by Henry Cooke and his wife Hannah until 1830. Turner had sketched the mill on his two previous visits (Tate D00933, D11492; Turner Bequest XXXIV 27, CXLVII 31a) and had included it prominently in his watercolour.2 This time, however, he drew it from the opposite direction.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.365 no. 565.
David Hill, Turner in the North: A Tour through Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, the Scottish Borders, the Lake District, Lancashire and Lincolnshire in the Year 1797, New Haven and London 1996, p.46.

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