Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Capital of the Monument, London


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 87 × 115 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXIV 20

Catalogue entry

This diagram appears to show part of the Doric capital towards the top of the Monument, London. The original has a band of carved thunderbolts and fireballs, alluding to the Great Fire of London (1666) which the column commemorates, though they are not very clearly defined here. At centre left below the drawing are dimensions, inscribed ascending vertically in relation to it, which refer to the drawing of the top of the monument on folio 19 verso opposite (D07988): ‘15 | 18 | 24 or 26’. These are similar to the figures in feet inscribed on the ground plan on folio 17 recto (D07985).
Maurice Davies relates this and the studies on folios 12 verso–13 recto, 17 recto, 19 verso, 31 recto and 34 recto (D07977, D07978, D07985, D07988, D08002, D08005) to Turner’s first perspective lecture, delivered at the Royal Academy in January 1811 (see the Introduction to the sketchbook); Turner discussed the ‘flaming ball’ surmounting the Monument and the distance from the base at ground level from which it could be viewed,1 in relation to his large watercolour diagram ‘4’ showing both the whole structure and the upper stages from below (Tate D17122; Turner Bequest CXCV 151). For further details of the structure see under folio 12 verso (D07977).
Davies pp.32, 106 note 8; Davies 1994, p.290.
Technical notes:
The right-hand (outer) edge of the page is irregular, and appears to be the untrimmed edge of the larger sheet folded to form this and adjacent leaves. At its widest at the top, the leaf is about 2 mm narrower than the usual 117 mm of the regularly trimmed leaves comprising the rest of the sketchbook. The bottom right corner is missing to the extent of about 5 x 5 mm, though again this appears due to the irregularity of the sheet rather than subsequent loss. Ruskin’s foliation is inscribed well to the left of this rough edge, rather than in the immediate corner as elsewhere. Folio 43 (D08015) has a similarly irregular edge, as does folio 64 (D08043).

Matthew Imms
January 2012

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