Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures in a Wooded Landscape; a Sky Study with Newgate Prison and the Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London; Study for a Classical Landscape

c.1823–4

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 111 × 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17775
Turner Bequest CCIV 2

Catalogue entry

Turner has worked on this page, turned vertically, from opposite ends. The upper half working down from the outer edge comprises a landscape with a screen of tall, slender tree trunks with what appear to be contemporary buildings beyond, perhaps recording or developed from an actual location in the Thames Valley; two or three figures are half-indicated in the foreground, possibly as imaginative additions.
The other sketches were made with the gutter at the top. The main view shows a schematic outline of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, on the left, with a profusion of annotations across the cloud-filled sky. Working loosely from top left to bottom right, these read: ‘Dark’, ‘Watery’, ‘White Clouds | Watery’, ‘Blue’, ‘[?Scuding] Clouds’, ‘Clear Blue’, ‘Stormy’, ‘warm’, and ‘all in Light yellow tone’. A roughly hatched silhouette below St Paul’s is inscribed ‘Newgate’, while below and to the right of the spire at the centre is the further comment ‘every thing in Shade but Ludg and St Pauls’.
Later developments make the exact viewpoint difficult to determine, but it appears to have been around the north end of Old Bailey, perhaps from an elevated position, looking beyond the old Newgate prison (later the site of the Central Criminal Court, itself known as ‘the Old Bailey’), south-west to St Paul’s and the church spire of St Martin, Ludgate. Newgate, an 1800 engraving after James Miller (London Metropolitan Archives), show the three buildings in a similar juxtaposition.
For other sky and cloud studies, see the entry for the inside of the front cover (D40982). There are London views on the River Thames and various scenes up-river on folios 5 recto, 8 verso, 9 recto and verso, 11 recto, (possibly) folio 18 verso, 25 verso, (possibly) folio 26 verso, 27 recto, 29 verso, 30 recto, 31 verso, 32 recto and verso, (possibly) 33 recto, 33 verso–34 recto, 34 verso, 35 recto and verso, 36 recto, 38 recto and verso, 39 recto, 40 recto and verso (possibly), 41 verso, and inside the back cover (D17779, D17784–D17786, D17788, D17796, D17804, D17806, D17807, D17810, D17811, D17813–D17817, D17819–D17823, D17826–D17828, D17830, D17831, D17833, D40983).

Matthew Imms
November 2014

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