Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lancaster: The Aqueduct, with the Town in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 274 × 370 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXV 65

Catalogue entry

Made with the page turned horizontally, Turner’s drawing of the new Lancaster aqueduct designed by John Rennie echoes his note of the modern Prebend’s Bridge at Durham on folio 21 recto (D01091; Turner Bequest XXXV 89). The aqueduct was even more recent than Prebend’s Bridge, having been opened in the year of Turner’s visit to the town. Turner scholar David Hill considers it a ‘radical departure’ in terms of subject matter, since the aqueduct was an important feat of modern engineering. It carried the North Lancashire Canal on five arches 51 feet (16 metres) above the River Lune. Turner goes to considerable lengths to understand and note the details of the design.
The artist was to include a close-up of part of the aqueduct in his watercolour view of Lancaster from the Aqueduct Bridge of about 1825, for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight; W.786),1 engraved in 1827 (Tate impressions: T04505, T04506, T06072). In that composition the town is visible in panorama above the parapet of the aqueduct; in the present drawing, only the church and the castle are glimpsed through the right-hand arch. There is a closer view of these monuments on the preceding leaf, folio 79 recto (D01066; Turner Bequest 64). A further view of Lancaster is folio 82 recto (D01069; Turner Bequest 67).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.391 no.786 , reproduced.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram; inscribed by A.J. Finberg in pencil ‘141.65’.

Andrew Wilton
August 2010

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