Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hampton Court Bridge, with a Thames Barge and Other Boats and Figures

c.1827

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 x 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20798
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 40 a

Catalogue entry

In the context of other Thames views in this sketchbook (see the Introduction), Ian Warrell first related this drawing of ‘a wooden bridge’ to a ‘colour beginning’ watercolour (Tate D25224; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 102),1 which Eric Shanes subsequently linked to Old Chelsea Bridge,2 based on Finberg’s description of the present drawing as ‘River scene: Wooden bridge with stone supports, boats and figures (seated) in foreground. Possibly Old Chelsea Bridge’.3 By this Finberg meant Old Battersea Bridge, linking Battersea to Chelsea, as seen in the background of Turner’s copy-drawing of about 1797 (Tate D00857; Turner Bequest XXXII A), and in 1870s paintings by Walter Greaves (1846–1930) and James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) (respectively Tate N04598 and N01959). However, that bridge had wooden piers reinforced above water level with lattices of timbers, whereas Turner’s pencil sketch here shows solid supports, apparently with timberwork above.
Warrell has since identified the bridge in the colour study as that at Hampton Court,4 just upstream of the palace (see under folio 2 verso (D20736). This is confirmed by a watercolour inscribed ‘Hampton Bridge’ by Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) showing an almost identical view to Turner’s pencil study, with the bridge springing from enclosed timber piers on the left and the same buildings on the right on the far bank (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).5 The main elements of this drawing were translated directly into the colour structure. The bridge has since been replaced and the buildings have not survived. Turner’s thumbnail sketch of figures, trees and perhaps a boat or too probably shows another aspect of the same scene.
Warrell noted that folio 40 recto (D20793; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 38), a rough tonal pencil study on a page prepared with grey wash, shows the same view.6 He suggests that the colours in D25224, ‘together with the suggestion of a blustery, cumulus-filled sky’, are comparable with those in Turner’s finished design Hampton Court Palace of about 1827 (private collection),7 engraved in 1829 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impression: T04550), ‘suggesting that the two watercolours were almost certainly painted as part of the same working session’.8
1
See Warrell 1991, p.47.
2
Shanes 1997, pp.102, 105.
3
Finberg 1909, II, p.699.
4
See Warrell 2008, p.111, and Warrell 2009, pp.104, 176.
5
See also variant reproduced as ‘1790: Second Hampton Court Bridge (1778–1866), print by Thomas Rowlandson’ at ‘Hampton Court Bridge’, Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide, accessed 26 October 2015, http://thames.me.uk/s00370.htm.
6
See Warrell 2009, p.176.
7
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.395 no.812.
8
Warrell 2009, p.176.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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