Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Greenwich Hospital from the River Thames

c.1830

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 98 × 76 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35834
Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 42 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the page turned vertically, these three quick views with their slight combinations of classical domes and pediments suggest Greenwich Hospital (later the Royal Naval College) on the Thames downriver of central London. Finberg’s suggestion of Ramsgate’s harbour,1 presumably prompted by Turner’s inscription to that effect on the coastal view on folio 39 verso (D35826; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 38a), seems unlikely in this case.
The sketches may have been made on one of Turner’s river journeys to or from Margate (see under folio 10 verso; D35776), as a reprise of a long-familiar subject; see under Tate D08131 (Turner Bequest CXVII D). Compare the rapid notation of what seems to be Greenwich in the 1825 Mortlake and Pulborough sketchbook (Tate D18785; Turner Bequest CCXIII 53). Turner produced a watercolour view of the Greenwich complex, including the Queen’s House and the distant Royal Observatory in the early 1830s (Tate D27693; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 176),2 engraved for Samuel Rogers’s Poems in 1834 (Tate impression: T04673); the upper view here may show the same juxtaposition of elements. There are further related sketches on folio 44 recto opposite (D35835; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 43), one of which includes ships’ masts in the foreground.
See also folio 18 verso (D35790; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 17a), a slight sketch which may possibly also show Greenwich.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.1178.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.440 no.1181, reproduced.

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