Joseph Mallord William Turner

Kirkstall Abbey from Kirkstall Hill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCX 52 a

Catalogue entry

Here Turner has drawn a prospect of Kirkstall Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery in West Yorkshire, from a south-easterly vantage point atop Kirkstall Hill. Turner and his close friend and contemporary Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) had previously pictured the Abbey from the same viewpoint in 1797 and 1800 respectively (see Tate D00921; Turner Bequest XXXIV 15 and The British Museum).1 The town of Kirkstall is rendered in the foreground at left and the River Aire can be seen meandering through the picturesque valley at centre. There is a separate and slight view of the valley above the main sketch.
These sketches are associated with Turner’s watercolour of Kirkstall Abbey produced for W.B. Cooke’s Rivers of England series (Tate D18146; Turner Bequest CCVIII M and Tate impressions T04810, T04811, T06371).2 See also Tate D18390; Turner Bequest CCX 48.

Alice Rylance-Watson
February 2015

Thomas Girtin, Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire, 1800, watercolour on paper, British Museum, London; see:,_kirkstall_abbey.aspx
For more information see Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Kirkstall Abbey, on the River Aire 1824 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, August 2014,

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