Joseph Mallord William Turner

Louth: St James’s Church Seen from the South-East


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 210 × 270 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXIV 80

Catalogue entry

The subject is drawn with the page turned horizontally. The view of the Lincolnshire town is from Upgate towards Mercer Row. The spire of the church is continued on folio 83 verso opposite (D40563). A view of Louth Church from the north is on the following page, folio 85 recto (D00991; Turner Bequest XXXIV 81). Turner seems to have included Louth in his itinerary at the behest of Benjamin Howlett, who commissioned a view of the town for his Select Views in the County of Lincoln, though this was never executed. Turner eventually made a finished watercolour based on this drawing for the England and Wales series in about 1827 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1829 (Tate impressions: T04544, T04555). It is one of Turner’s most animated market scenes, although John Ruskin insisted that he was uninterested in the mundane detail of the horse fair but preferred the Gothic architecture of St James’s Church, despite its relegation to the status of a mere backdrop to the lively foreground.2 Hill suggests that as Mercer Row is in fact a narrow thoroughfare, no market of the kind Turner depicts could ever have been held here. It is likely, however, that the multitudinous details he so energetically records were remembered, at least in outline, from his visit to the town.
Wilton 1979, p.394 no.809, pl.186.
See E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume XIII: Turner: The Harbours of England; Catalogues and Notes, London 1904, p.438.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
January 2013

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