Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Louth, Lincolnshire


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 310 x 490 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 85

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has suggested that this very slight colour study relates to the watercolour Louth, Lincolnshire of about 1827 or 1828 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1829 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04544, T04545).2 The finished design shows St James’s Church, with its tall spire, from the south-east in the background on the left, from the corner of Upgate and Mercer Row, with busy market stalls and a horse fair. It was based on a pencil drawing of the empty street in the 1797 North of England sketchbook (Tate D00990; Turner Bequest XXXIV 80).
The present work, with its casually washed-out, not-quite-upright spire on the left, pale against a blustery sky, and a suggestion of the main body of the church to its right, has little else to link it definitively to the Louth composition. The blue mass to the right, with a broken diagonal upper edge, corresponds to the area occupied by buildings in the right foreground, but its colour would more obviously suggest the sky, and the vague correlation of the shapes at this point may be fortuitous. The indentification of this study with Louth is likely to remain speculative.
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.394 no.809, pl.186.
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 96, 105.
Blank (laid down and not inspected).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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