Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fishing Boats off Billingsgate in the Pool of London below Old London Bridge, with St Paul’s Cathedral Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 36 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this busy scene shows the quay below the old Billingsgate fish market, crowded with sails and figures. The sketch continues a little way across folio 37 recto (D17898), where arches of Old London Bridge are seen to the west up the River Thames. In the background on the present page are the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the tower of St Magnus the Martyr’s Church and the Monument. There is a detail of figures, including one apparently in a sou’wester hat, at the top right.
The grouping of the sails here and the general sense of bustle seem to have informed the right-hand side of the 1824 watercolour known as The Port of London (Victoria and Albert Museum, London),1 engraved in 1827 as Old London Bridge and Vicinity (Tate impression: T06070); see the overall Introduction to the present Thames-related section. Similar figures and indications of boats are seen on folio 37 verso (D17899).
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river around the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.514, reproduced.

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