Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Fishmongers’ Company Barge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 × 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 25 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, there are studies of three ceremonial vessels here. The largest is the Fishmongers’ Company barge. Annotations run down the right-hand side. ‘Tho Bradbury’ seems to be a reference to the Lord Mayor of London in 1509,1 although his significance here is unclear. ‘All Worship be to God | only’ is the motto of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers,2 and below is a note of ‘Blue Gold’ beside a schematic representation of the Company’s shield, which incorporates three crowned dolphins flanked by crossed pairs of crowned fish, on a blue ground. ‘Helmet cross Blue H and | cross’, ‘Red [...] crown’, and ‘X Key Gold Gd Red’ describe other aspects of the coat of arms, including three pairs of St Peter’s crossed keys in gold on a red ground. ‘Mermaid Merman Green’ refers to carved figure supporting the shield.
Around the barge and the sculptures on the roof of its cabin are further notes: ‘Triton’, ‘Green’, ‘Red & Gold’, and ‘Black Gold’. Above the small boat and flags at the bottom right inscribed ‘w Dolphin | Blue’. See also the studies on folio 26 recto opposite (D17962).
The drawings between folios 20 verso and 34 verso (D40967, D17979) include rapid studies and notes of barges, flags, costumes and bridges along the River Thames, and appear to record or relate to the Lord Mayor’s Day procession of 9 November 1824, as discussed in the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See ‘Addenda: The Mayors and Sheriffs of London’, British History Online, accessed 17 December 2014,
See The Fishmongers’ Company, accessed 17 December 2014,

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