Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Cloisters of Chester Cathedral

?1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 × 191 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D22178
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 15 a

Catalogue entry

The subject had been amended as ‘Chester’ by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) and the watercolour and Turner scholar C.F. Bell (died 1966) in undated manuscript notes in copies of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory.1 Turner shows the crossing tower of Chester Cathedral through the ruined window arches of the Gothic cloisters, looking south-east; in order to record the windows of the cathedral’s nave and the far side of the cloisters, he has effectively rendered the stonework on the near side transparent.
An 1811 etching by George Cuitt, Junior (1779–1854) shows a similar view of Part of the Cloisters of Chester Cathedral (British Museum, London), indicating the ruinous state of the tracery in the early nineteenth century. The cloisters were restored in 1911–13 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880–1960).2
For other views of Chester, see under folio 14 verso (D22176). Compare also the sketch inside the cloisters at Worcester Cathedral on folio 88 verso (D22314; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 87a).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

1
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, p.734; C.F. Bell, undated MS notes in another copy at the same location, vol.II, p.734; subject confirmed by Ian Warrell in notes from 1993 and later in Tate catalogue files.
2
See Steve Howe, ‘The Cathedral II’, Chester: A Virtual Stroll around the Walls, accessed 7 October 2013, http://www.chesterwalls.info/cathedral2.html.

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