after Joseph Mallord William Turner

Rievaulx Abbey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
After Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Line engraving on paper
Image: 94 × 155 mm
Purchased 1988

Display caption

Rievaulx Abbey, about twenty miles
north of York, was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132. The towering ruins of
the abbey are among the most impressive in England.


In this view Turner has placed the abbey
in the middle-distance. His interest
in the architecture is equalled by his attention to the surrounding landscape and human activity in the foreground.
A similar view of Rievaulx Abbey is
used in an earlier engraving series, the Picturesque Views in England and Wales.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

[from] The Gallery of Modern British Artists pub.1834–6 [T05149-T05151; complete]

Three line-engravings, various states, comprising both subjects; different papers and sizes
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery

The Gallery of Modern British Artists was published in two volumes by the London publishers Simpkin and Marshall and T.W Stevens, apparently in conjunction with Charles Tilt. There is some confusion over the exact date of the publication; the copy in the British Library, issued as one volume, has the date 1834 on the spine and on the title-page, although 1836 is inscribed on the title-page vignette and in the publication line below the frontispiece vignette. Although Rawlinson ascribes the date 1834–6 to the publication in the list at the front of his catalogue, the date 1834–56 appears in his text; this must surely be a mistake. ‘Fish Market, Rotterdam’ is dated 1834 in Rawlinson's list and ‘Rievaulx’ 1836, although the latter is dated to ‘about 1835’ in Rawlinson's text. Both plates, however, appear in volume two of the Gallery of Modern British Artists and are therefore likely to be of the same date, probably 1836. The publication was reissued as one volume, in about 1840, by D. Omer Smith, but ‘Rievaulx Abbey’ was omitted from this edition.

The Gallery of Modern British Artists comprised a series of engravings after contemporary British artists, essentially watercolourists, such as Clennell, De Wint, Stanfield and Bonington, in addition to Turner. The plates were accompanied by a descriptive text. The engravers for the two Turner plates were Joseph Clayton Bentley (1809–51) and William Floyd (active 1832–59).

T05151 Rievaulx Abbey engr. J.C. Bentley

Line-engraving 94 × 155 (3 11/16 × 6 1/8) on wove paper 278 × 384 (10 15/16 × 11 15/16); plate-mark 229 × 276 (9 × 10 7/8)
Inscribed in pencil in a later hand b.l. of sheet ‘Pocock Sale Sotheby 5 July 1895 | with 6 others (6) see back’ and b.r. of sheet ‘Turner's sale’; Turner studio blind stamp bottom centre of image
Prov: Artist's sale, Christie's 23–5 April 1873; ...; Mrs Crawford Pocock, sold Sotheby's 8 July 1895 (? in 25)
Exh: Tate Gallery 1989–90 (79, repr.)
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.571, engraver's proof

Engraver's proof of plate published in vol.II, 1836, p.55. Original watercolour: Tate Gallery, N05615 (Wilton 1979, no.1151; Lyles and Perkins 1990, no.78, repr.).

Although Wilton suggests that this was possibly intended as an illustration to one of Scott's novels, the accompanying text states that the design was one that ‘Mr. Turner has furnished us with expressly for this work’. Rawlinson describes this as the small plate (although it is of a similar size to ‘Fish Market’, T05149-T05150), probably to distinguish it from Turner's other prints of Rievaulx Abbey: for Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Rawlinson I 1908, no.209) and for the Liber Studiorum (A.J. Finberg, The History of Turner's Liber Studiorum, 1924, no.51).

The Pocock sale on 5 July 1895 referred to in the pencil inscription is presumably the sale of Mrs Crawford Pocock's engravings, including a large number after Turner, which in fact took place on 8 July (Lugt 579).

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996


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