Joseph Mallord William Turner

Prague: The Town Hall of the Old Town with its Astronomical Clock, with the Tyn Church beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCIV 85 a

Catalogue entry

This is a study of Prague’s celebrated astronomical clock or ‘Orloj’, mounted on the wall of the Old Town Hall. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it one of the oldest of its kind in the world and the oldest still operating.1 A highly intricate construction, it is shows the relative positions of the Sun and Moon, the signs of the zodiac and a calendar and also includes animated figurines of the Apostles, Death, and the personified Seven Sins. The Church of Our Lady Before Týn can be seen in the background.
The sketch continues onto the folio opposite (Tate D30794; Turner Bequest CCCIV 86).
Turner produced several views of Prague on the 1835 tour. For other drawings in this sketchbook Tate D30759–30761, D30764–D30765, D30767, D30771–D30773, D30775–D30777, D30779–D30783, D30788–D30790, D30792–D30803, D30805, D30807–D30811, D30813–D30820; Turner Bequest CCCIV 68–69, 70a–71, 72, 74–75, 76–77, 78–80, 82a–84, 85–91, 92, 93–96, 97–102. See also the Dresden, Tepliz and Prague sketchbook (Tate D30344–D30361, D30364–D30366; Turner Bequest CCCI 25–33a, 36–37).

Alice Rylance-Watson
December 2015

‘Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Square’, Czech Tourism, accessed 10 December 2016,

Read full Catalogue entry

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