Joseph Mallord William Turner

Old London Bridge with Piledrivers on the River Thames


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 8

Catalogue entry

This view shows the southern end of the upstream side of Old London Bridge from the west, focusing on the early stages of building operations for its replacement, which began in March 1824. The vertical features are piledrivers used in establishing coffer-dams in the river to facilitate the construction of the new bridge’s piers. The wisp of smoke towards the left comes from a smoke-stack above the hull of a vessel, apparently steam-powered itself or bearing a steam engine on its deck. As so often, Turner has made careful written notes of the workers’ dress. Around the right-hand end of the drawing are supplementary sketches of the waterfront.
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river around the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop