Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Ivy Bridge, on the River Erme at Ivybridge


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 153 a

Catalogue entry

In referring to page ‘153’ of this sketchbook as a source for the watercolour Ivy Bridge of about 1813 (Tate D18157; Turner Bequest CCVIII X),1 engraved in 1816 for The Rivers of Devon, though not published until 1821, Eric Shanes2 presumably intended the present, more extensive drawing rather than the unfinished, vertically orientated version on the recto (D08654; CXXIII 153). Diane Perkins was tentative in identifying it,3 but it seems likely that the drawing shows the Ivy Bridge, as Turner would have crossed it on his route westwards through Devon between Totnes (see under folio 94 verso; D08542; CXXIII 91a) and Plymouth (see under folio 3 verso; D08367). The watercolour was based more directly on a drawing in the later Devon Rivers, No.2 sketchbook (Tate D09722; Turner Bequest CXXXIII 45), which shows the bridge in a wider setting.
Having initially shown it too high and broad as it passes behind the foliage to the right, Turner heavily shaded the underside of the bridge, but subsequently corrected its curve with delicate concentric strokes suggesting the slight point at the apex which remains characteristic of the arch over the River Erme.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.350 no.442, reproduced.
Shanes 1981, p.152, and 1990, pp.37 under no.15, 283 note 14; see also Shanes, Joll, Warrell and others 2000, p.102.
Perkins 1990, pp.42–3.

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