Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Arches of Bideford Bridge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 90 × 152 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXII 79 a

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has recognised the sketch on folio 66 recto (D09550) as a view of Barnstaple Bridge, with its sixteen arches over the River Taw (which Finberg misidentified as the twenty-four-arched bridge at nearby Bideford). The drawings in between, on folios 67 recto, 68 recto, 69 recto and 70 recto (D09551–D09554), noted by Finberg as the ‘same bridge’ (i.e. supposedly Bideford) are therefore also identifiable as of Barnstaple Bridge.
However, the two drawings of a similar bridge on this page and folio 79 recto (D09564) do indeed, as Finberg suggested, show Bideford, as the annotation ‘24’ here indicates.1 This is a very summary drawing; only the arches of the bridge are indicated, as a series of rough semi-circles. The arches of the actual medieval bridge are of irregular widths, but the sketch cannot claim to reflect their spacing precisely. The irregular outline towards the top right may be a hillside beyond, as seen on the more direct drawing on the recto (D09564), under which other views in the Bideford area are noted.

Matthew Imms
June 2014

Shanes 1997, pp.59, 92 note 2 under no.40; for the watercolour, see p.58 no.39, reproduced (colour).

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop