Joseph Mallord William Turner

Gloucester Cathedral (‘Boston Stump’ or ‘The Hare’)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 230 x 300 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 307

Technique and condition

This study on white wove paper was made using watercolour with some graphite pencil drawing applied on top or between the washes of colour. The faint tree-line in the middle ground has been drawn in pencil.
In most areas the colour is made up of one or two thick washes. The grey tones in this work are made of Prussian blue mixed with dark red ochre. Viridian and yellow ochre were mixed and used for the greenest areas, and brown earth pigments are present, sometimes mixed with the other colours. This is an early use of viridian in watercolour by Turner or any other watercolourist: here he has not used its intense bluish green to greatest effect, since the yellow ochre in the mixture makes it look less distinctive.
On the horizon there are bands of yellow made from a yellow ochre and ultramarine. The latter looks a different shade from its usual reddish tone, because light exposure when the sheet was covered with a window mount has left the central area permanently yellowed, which causes the ultramarine to look more green than intended. Warmer tones now appear even warmer than intended, for the same reason.

Joyce Townsend
March 2011

Catalogue entry

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