Joseph Mallord William Turner

London: York House Water-Gate, Westminster, with York Buildings Waterworks


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 298 × 419 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXVII W

Display caption

As a young artist, Turner developed a meticulous style to describe architectural antiquities. In this unfinished work, he has applied the same style to an urban subject. The tall structure that dominates this scene was the water tower at what is now the Embankment, in London.

The crowded jumble of the modern city was a challenging subject for artists. It lacked the more established historical or poetic associations of old buildings, and tended to lead to images that were more descriptive than evocative.

Gallery label, August 2004

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