Joseph Mallord William Turner

Old London Bridge; Gothic Tracery


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 x 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 34 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the sketch at the centre left, continuing across the full width of folio 35 recto opposite (D17894), shows the downstream side of Old London Bridge from the east; the numbers above each arch indicate sequences of balusters. Compare the arches on folio 2 verso (D17837) and the elevation on folios 32 verso–33 recto (D17889–D17890). The fragmentary study of Gothic tracery at the centre is unrelated, and may be a detail from a nearby church such as Southwark Cathedral; see also the recto and folio 35 verso (D17892, D17895).
There are strokes of grey watercolour at the bottom right, probably relating to the 1824 watercolour known as The Port of London (Victoria and Albert Museum, London),1 engraved in 1827 as Old London Bridge and Vicinity (Tate impression: T06070); see the overall Introduction to the present Thames-related section. The bridge (albeit not the section shown on the present page) is seen from a similar angle in that composition, and Turner may have tested the colour here as he worked on it; see also the Technical notes below for other such instances.
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the River Thames around the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the book’s Introduction.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.514, reproduced.
Technical notes:
There are adventitious strokes of watercolour at the bottom right of the drawing, as discussed above. Compare the similar marks on folios 9 verso, 10 recto and 11 recto and 20 verso (D17851, D17852, D17854, D17893).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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