Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Limestone Workings and Tunnels on Wren’s Nest Hill, Dudley, from the Mouth of a Cave


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 120 x 203 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 59 a

Catalogue entry

Finberg was unsure whether this drawing, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, showed Tamworth (see under folio 52 verso; D22072; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 51c) or Dudley.1 The subject remains unconfirmed, but is likely to show a quarry with tunnel entrances, possibly reflected in water, on Wren’s Nest Hill, north-west of the centre of Dudley. The loose marks around the edges of the composition suggest that the viewpoint is the mouth of a natural cave (compare the similar treatment of a view out to the beach at Tintagel in the 1811 Cornwall and Devon sketchbook; Tate D41338; Turner Bequest CXXV a 57).
Wren’s Nest Hill was then subject to intensive limestone mining and quarrying for building stone and lime used in mortar and fertiliser and in the blast furnaces of the local iron industry.2 It is the viewpoint for the drawings on folios 59 recto and verso and 60 recto (D22085, D22086, D22087; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 57, 57a, 58). The building on the skyline here is perhaps one of those shown in the sketches on folio 60 verso (D22088; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 58a) and the recto of the present leaf (D22089). Compare the sequence in the contemporary Birmingham and Coventry sketchbook (Tate D22416–D22425; Turner Bequest CCXL 49a–54 recto). For other views of Dudley see under folio 23 recto (D22016).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

Finberg 1909, II, p.731.
See ‘Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve’, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, accessed 11 July 2013,; and ‘The Geology of Wren’s Nest Nature Reserve’, BGCS: The Black Country Geological Society, accessed 11 July 2013,

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