Joseph Mallord William Turner

Pont Aberglaslyn


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 329 × 225 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLV 7 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this is a splendidly romanticised view of the bridge at Pontaberglaslyn, in its gorge over the turbulent River Glaslyn. Turner has restricted his materials to pencil, used rather heavily in the foreground, and a dark grey-black wash relieved at the centre of the design by coarse scratching-out. The emphatic pencil-work suggests that this was initially a drawing in pencil alone; Turner may have felt impelled to add wash as his perception of the inherent drama of his subject became more focused. Gerald Wilkinson refers to its ‘almost angry style’.1
Two other views in the valley of the Glaslyn, treated with similar dour grandeur in monochrome washes, are on folios 48 recto and 51 recto (D01987, D01990; Turner Bequest XLV 47, 50). The monochrome palette and upright format of the present drawing anticipate Turner’s methods when recording the Alps in the St Gothard and Mont Blanc sketchbook of 1802 (Tate; Turner Bequest LXXV).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Wilkinson 1972, p.87.

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