Joseph Mallord William Turner

General View of Cyfarthfa Ironworks ?from the South-West

1798

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Pen and ink and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 287 × 456 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D01629
Turner Bequest XLI 1

Catalogue entry

This is one of a sequence of careful drawings in this book (see also D01630–D01632; Turner Bequest XLI 2, 3, 4) made in response to a commission from Anthony Bacon, of Newbury, Berkshire (1772–1827), noted on a flyleaf of the contemporary Hereford Court sketchbook (Tate D01249; Turner Bequest XXXVIII, opposite inside back cover). Bacon’s father had been responsible for setting up the works on the banks of the River Taf in 1765; Richard Crawshay leased them in 1786, and took over ownership in 1794.
Bacon was, then, understandably concerned to possess a record of an important family achievement that was passing out of his control. By 1806 Cyfarthfa was the largest ironworks in the world, and it continued to expand throughout the nineteenth century, one of the most important early industrial sites in Britain. Afflicted by labour disputes in the 1870s, is converted to steel production in the 1880s, but was virtually abandoned by 1910. It was demolished in 1926. Cyfarthfa Castle, built in the baronial style by William Crawshay II in 1825, survives today. Its grounds are a public park.
The bridge seen in the drawing was built in 1793, cast from the same pattern as the earlier Pont-y-Cafnau.1 It was demolished probably as late as 1960.
1
See Stephen Hughes, The Newcarnen Bulletin, no.123, August 1982, p.8.
Technical notes:
The sheet is stained, with a line of grey-blue paint along the lower edge. A strip of paper 24 mm wide has been pasted along the top edge.
Verso:
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram; inscribed in a later (twentieth-century) hand in pencil ‘38’.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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