Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Pool of London below Old London Bridge, with the Shot Tower and Southwark Cathedral Beyond; Studies of a Barge, a Façade and an Arch of the Bridge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 20 a

Display caption

The pencil sketches on the left-hand page of this book relate to a watercolour of 'Old London Bridge and Vicinity', now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of a group of views intended to illustrate a publication on London. The right-hand sheet is one of several monochrome studies in this book which show clouded sunsets. This and other watercolours of the period relate very closely to the preoccupations behind the series of mezzotints known as the 'Little Liber' (see cat.nos.22-25).

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

The main view is south-west from the Pool of London, looking up the River Thames to Old London Bridge, with the tower of St Olave’s Church, the adjacent shot tower and the tower of Southwark Cathedral beyond. At the top left appears to be the oblique façade of a building, with an inverted study of one of the bridge’s arches beside it, while boats and figures are sketched at the top right.
There are slight strokes of ochre watercolour at the bottom left. Eric Shanes has noted this drawing as one of a number in this sketchbook1 relating to the 1824 watercolour known as The Port of London (Victoria and Albert Museum, London),2 engraved in 1827 as Old London Bridge and Vicinity (Tate impression: T06070); see the overall Introduction to the present Thames-related section. The background of the left-hand side of that composition would have been informed by the details recorded here and, as Ian Warrell has suggested, Turner may have tested a colour on this page (and others referred to in the Technical notes below) as he worked on the composition.3
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river around the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the book’s Introduction.
See Shanes 1981, pp.38, 42 note 17.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.514, reproduced.
See Warrell 1991, p.41.
Technical notes:
There are adventitious strokes of watercolour at the bottom left of the drawing, as discussed above. Compare the similar marks on folios 9 verso, 10 recto, 11 recto and 20 verso (D17851, D17852, D17854, D17893). There is prominent brown mottling to the upper half of the page, perhaps from proximity to the watercolour study on folio 21 recto opposite (D17874).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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