Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping on the River Thames off the Tower of London; the Hulk ‘Perseus’; the Pool of London with Old London Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 162 × 98 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 13 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, the Tower of London is seen to the north-east past shipping on the River Thames. A more detailed drawing from a similar angle in the contemporary River sketchbook (Tate D17819; Turner Bequest CCIV 34) was the most direct source for the watercolour of The Tower of London of about 1825 (private collection),1 engraved in 1831 for The Literary Souvenir (Tate impression: T06137). Compare also the more detailed view on folio 12 verso (D17857).
Below a slight sketch of figures on or beside what appears to be a laden barge is the hulk of the Perseus, a former 22-gun Royal Navy frigate2 then moored off the Tower. It also appears in the River book (Tate D17810, D17817, D17820; Turner Bequest CCIV 29a, 33a, 34a) and in the associated watercolour, where its bows are seen from a similar angle.
Below, separated by a horizontal pencil line, is a view west up the Thames to Old London Bridge from near the Tower, with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the tower of St Magnus the Martyr’s Church and the Monument on the right. More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river in the vicinity of the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.515.
See Pieter van der Merwe, ‘“Calais in Twelve Hours”: Turner’s “Tower of London” and the early cross-Channel steam packets’, Turner Society News, no.57, March 1991, pp.12, 13.

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