Joseph Mallord William Turner

Newbridge, Gunnislake, from beside the Tavistock Road


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 181 × 228 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXVII 44 a

Catalogue entry

The view is westwards, looking down the steep hill beside the old Tavistock road and straight over the roadbed of Newbridge (indicated by the shallow zigzag profiles of its piers) across the River Tamar towards Gunnislake, with the ‘Caledonia’ granary to its right and the village and mine workings on the slopes to its left. The river, marking the borders of Devon and Cornwall, meanders down from the valley above and to the right of the bridge. The road is now lined with trees and serves as a secondary route, relieved by a shallower, twisting road which departs from it near the bridge, crosses over it half-way up the lower slopes and rejoins it further on. Prospects from the old road are restricted, but Turner’s overall view can be approximated from around where the two routes meet north of Hatchwood House.
The sketch is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. There is a similar study from lower down and a little further from the road on folio 48 verso (D10269; CXXXVII 45a). The granary, now gone,1 is a prominent feature beside the bridge in Turner’s oil Crossing the Brook, exhibited in 1815 (Tate N00497),2 based on sketches of Gunnislake from the north – see folios 49 verso and 50 verso (D10271, D10273; CXXXVII 46a, 47a). Turner’s work in the immediate area in preparation for the painting and the history of the locality have been discussed in detail by Diana Cook and Dorothy Kirk,3 though of the sketches of Newbridge in the present book they only mention that on folio 50 verso. Going by local tradition, they suggest that Turner might have stayed at the Royal Oak inn (now private accommodation),4 the gables of which appear in the trees on the near side of the bridge.
This sketchbook contains numerous views in and around the Tamar and Tavy valleys between folios 46 verso (D10265; CXXXVII 43a) and 58 verso (D10289; CXXXVII 55a), probably made in the summer of 1813 in conjunction with those in the smaller Devon Rivers, No.1 sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CXXXII). The latter is covered in the section of the present catalogue specifically devoted to Turner’s 1813 visit to Devon, where further information on Turner’s work in the area will be found.

Matthew Imms
May 2011

See Diana Cook and Dorothy Kirk, Turner in the Tamar Valley: Following in Turner’s Footsteps along the River Tamar, Drakewalls 2009, pp.16, 18.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.93–4 no.130, pl.123 (colour).
See Cook and Kirk, pp.16–23, 40–9.
Ibid., pp.8–9.

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