Joseph Mallord William Turner

Old London Bridge from the East, with a Paddle Steamer


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Support: 75 × 129 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXLII 14

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, Turner has drawn a two-part view of Old London Bridge from downstream, looking west. At the top, on the south side are the tower of St Olave’s Church, the nearby shot tower, and the pinnacles of Southwark Cathedral. Halfway across the middle is the tower of St Magnus King and Martyr’s Church, with the dome of St Paul’s beyond; to their right is a schematic elevation of the classical Custom House.
Turner was very familiar with all of these, and drew them in more detail on various other occasions; see for example the Tabley No.3, Old London Bridge and London Bridge and Portsmouth sketchbooks (Tate; Turner Bequest CV, CCX, CCVI). The sketch of a paddle steamer below may indicate that this time, travelling was involved.1 See also the similar views of around the same date in the Marine Dabblers sketchbook (Tate D22526–D22528; Turner Bequest CCXLI 55, 55a, 56), grouped with the present book in this catalogue.
This is the only London sketch in this book; for the few showing other locations, see the Introduction.
For steamers on this part of the Thames, see Pieter van der Merwe, ‘“Calais in Twelve Hours”: Turner’s “Tower of London” and the early cross-Channel steam packets’, Turner Society News, no.57, March 1991, pp.11–13.

Matthew Imms
May 2014

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