Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Chain Gate, Wells


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 185

Catalogue entry

The exterior of Wells Cathedral’s chapter house is shown towards the top left. The upper storey of the Chain Gate is a corridor running south-north between the cathedral and the Vicars’ Close to the right. This rough drawing continues on folio 187 verso opposite (D08708; CXXIII 184a) with the lower part of the structure. Turner’s inscription refers to figures in a recessed, carved bas relief panel over the right-hand (north) arch. The stone is now badly worn, but figures to left and right, possibly winged, and what may be a flying or hovering figure above with outstretched arms can just be made out.
A drawing by Henry Edridge (1769–1821) shows the whole of this façade (Tate T10102) in a degree of detail comparable with Turner’s own, rather more considered 1795 sketch of the far side of the structure from the Cathedral Green side in the Smaller South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00464; Turner Bequest XXV 3).
There is a slight sketch of the cathedral on folio 190 recto (D08711; CXXIII 187).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop