Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies on the River Thames around Wapping; a Sketch Copy of Benjamin Robert Haydon’s ‘Raising of Lazarus’


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 1

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, Turner has made various slight studies of figures and boats on the River Thames foreshore, apparently at Wapping, as inscribed at the top left, on the north bank downstream from Old London Bridge, the subject of many drawings in this sketchbook; see the Introduction. The artist had inherited property in Wapping in 1820.1
At the bottom of the page is a rapid sketch of The Raising of Lazarus, an oil painting of 1821–3 by the ambitious but intransigent and financially disastrous historical painter Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786–1846). Haydon’s large, complex composition was exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London; here he rented a room and opened successfully to the paying public on 3 March 1823 after a private view two days earlier,2 continuing into April, when he was imprisoned for chronic debt.3 Turner’s watercolours for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales were exhibited at the same venue in 1829;4 the failure of another of Haydon’s self-funded exhibitions there in April 1846 was a factor in his suicide a few weeks later.5
In the first of its various indignities, Lazarus was sold to a creditor, ‘Binns, his upholsterer, for £300’ shortly after the 1823 exhibition,6 where Turner had presumably seen it and made this small sketch, less than 4 inches across compared with the painting’s dimensions of 427 x 636 cm (approximately 14 x 21 feet). This is a rare example of Turner’s copying a contemporary work,7 perhaps indicating a fellow-feeling for Haydon’s dedication and ambition, although the slightness of the memorandum is perhaps indicative of his critical opinion – but then Turner’s sketchbook copies of major Old Master works are usually equally perfunctory. Haydon’s picture was eventually presented to the National Gallery in 1868 and is now in storage at Tate (N00786), in a reasonably sound but much darkened condition.8 A crude anonymous copy in oils (Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries) gives some idea of its original brighter tonality and the local colouring with which Turner has annotated his sketch. It is possible that some of the isolated figures on folio 28 verso (D17884) relate to Haydon’s painting.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See Nicholas Powell, ‘Finance and Property’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.108; see also Bailey 1997, p.240..
See Tom Taylor (ed.), Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, Historical Painter, from his Autobiography and Journals, London 1853, vol.II, p.47.
Ibid., p.49.
See Luke Herrmann, ‘Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, exhibition’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, p.86.
See Taylor 1853, III, pp.306–23; and for Turner and Haydon generally, John McCoubrey, ‘War and Peace in 1842: Turner, Haydon and Wilkie’, Turner Studies, vol.4, no.2, Winter 1984, pp.2–7, and David Blayney Brown, ‘Haydon, Benjamin Robert (1786–1846)’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, p.136.
Taylor 1853, II, p.60.
See Martin Butlin, ‘Copies after Other Artists’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, pp.63–4; and Ian Warrell, ‘“Stolen hints from celebrated pictures”: Turner as Copyist, Collector and Consumer of Old Master Paintings’ in David Solkin (ed.), Turner and the Masters, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2009, pp.41–55.
See also Lydia Hamlett, ‘Sublime Religion: Benjamin Robert Haydon’s The Raising of Lazarus’, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013, accessed 5 February 2014,

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