Joseph Mallord William Turner

Malmesbury: Interior of the Abbey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 332 × 229 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVIII 4

Catalogue entry

The view is from the south transept, looking east.
Several leaves in this book, with drawings made at Malmesbury, are inscribed by Turner on their versos with Sir Richard Colt Hoare’s name: this one, and folios 6, 7, 9 and 12 (D01328, D01340, D01255, D01258; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 74, 86, 6, 9). In a letter to Colt Hoare of 4 March 1806,1 the artist ‘begs leave to say that the charge for the Malmesbury expenses (e.g. five guineas) is only added if Sir Richard declines having the sketches finished that were made at Malmesbury.’ The letter was endorsed by Colt Hoare with a record of a payment of fourteen guineas from which five guineas were deducted ‘overcharged on last account’. John Gage notes: ‘It is clear from Colt Hoare’s endorsement that he did not wish to have these sketches finished’.2
Like the study on folio 2 recto (D01252; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 3), this drawing employs a coloured wash in conjunction with pencil outline. Although it does not aim, like that one, at a strong atmospheric effect, it nevertheless ranks among the most beautiful of Turner’s studies of ecclesiastical architecture. It demonstrates the benefits derived from experience gained on his tour in the North of England the previous year, when he was able to draw in York and Beverley Ministers as well as Ripon and Durham Cathedrals and the monastic ruins of Yorkshire and the Tweed valley.
For Malmesbury views on adjacent pages, see under D01252.
John Gage, (ed.), Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner with an Early Diary and a Memoir by George Jones, Oxford 1980, p.29 letter 14.
Ibid., note 2.
Blank; inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Sir Richard Colt Hoare Bart.’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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