Joseph Mallord William Turner

The London Bridge Foundation Stone Ceremony: Inside the Marquee, with the Stone


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXIII 78 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch shows the framework of the arena fitted out within the marquee erected over the coffer-dam around the site of the southernmost pier of the new London Bridge, for the foundation stone ceremony held on the riverbed on 15 June 1825. The large stone itself is at the bottom centre. Compare the engraving of the ‘Coffer-Dam, and the position of the first stone’ in Richard Thomson’s near-contemporary book Chronicles of London Bridge.1
This is the first of a sequence of hurried sketches, apparently made in the course of the ceremony, working backwards through the book to folio 71 verso (D18804). The event and other studies relating to it at the beginning and end of this sketchbook are discussed in the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

‘An Antiquary’ [Richard Thomson], Chronicles of London Bridge, London 1827, p.646.

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