Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Portico of Carlton House, London


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 87 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXIV 15 a

Catalogue entry

This rather slight drawing shows the basic elements of the central portico on the north front of Carlton House, the Prince Regent’s London home. The sprawling building on the south side of Pall Mall was designed by Henry Holland, built between 1783 and 1795, and demolished in 1826.1 The portico was six columns wide, with a royal coat of arms in the pediment; the ground plan of the left-hand columns is indicated at the top left. They are thought to have been recycled in the east and west porticos of the National Gallery, built nearby a few years later.2
The Carlton House portico appears in a large watercolour diagram which accompanied Turner’s first perspective lecture at the Royal Academy in January 1811 (see the Introduction to the sketchbook), showing the whole of the north front with rusticated wings and its colonnaded screen and gateways in front, in which Turner combined a scale elevation with naturalistic shading (Tate D17119; Turner Bequest CXCV 148).3 There are further studies of Carlton House on folios 16 recto opposite, 49 verso–50 recto, 61 verso (D07984, D08023, D08024, D08039) and possibly 39 recto (D08011).
The north façade and screen are shown in a watercolour of about 1811 by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd and in anonymous engravings published by Ackermann in 1809 and by Laurie and Whittle in 1813 (London Metropolitan Archives).

Matthew Imms
January 2012

See Maurice Davies, Turner as Professor: The Artist and Linear Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1992, p.33.
‘About the Building: Building the Gallery’, The National Gallery, accessed 24 February 2010,*/viewPage/4.
Davies 1992, pp.31, 33.

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