Joseph Mallord William Turner

The River Thames from Southwark, with St Pauls Cathedral in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 11

Catalogue entry

The main view is to the north-west from the south bank of the River Thames in the vicinity of the new London Bridge, then under construction (see folio 12 recto; D20751), with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral towards the right beyond Southwark Bridge, which has since been rebuilt; the view is now obscured by Cannon Street Railway Bridge. In the foreground are the characteristic sails of Thames barges and figures on the foreshore.
There is a thumbnail recapitulation of the view towards the top left, including some shading, apparently to reinforce Turner’s written comments: ‘Cyp [sic] all one tone [...] | W yet solid and St Pauls one general warm tone’. Such notes evidently served as shorthand memoranda of a particular effect of light reminding him of the harmonious work of the Dutch painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691); see comparable notes in the 1821 Dieppe, Rouen and Paris sketchbook (Tate D24528; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 15), the 1825 Holland sketchbook (Tate D19071, D19098; Turner Bequest CCXIV 117a, 131), the 1826 Loire, Tours, Orleans and Paris sketchbook (Tate D23322; Turner Bequest CCXLIX 39a), the 1830 Birmingham and Coventry sketchbook (Tate D22458; Turner Bequest CCXL 70a), the Kent sketchbook of about the same year (Tate D35807; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 27v) and the 1831 Berwick sketchbook (Tate D25737; Turner Bequest CCLXV 53).1
For other Thames view in this sketchbook, see under folio 10 verso opposite (D20748).
See also Lindsay 1966, pp.226 note 25, 244 note 31, and Bachrach 2001, pp.69–70.
Technical notes:
The grey wash ground, common to all the rectos in this sketchbook, has been scratched through to reveal the white paper in various places among the figures or items of cargo towards the bottom right, and to suggest a glint of light on the river in the distance.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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