Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Tower of London from the River Thames; a Paddle Steamer, Probably with Another Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCIV 36

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the Tower of London is seen from the River Thames, looking north-east, with the White Tower beyond to the right (slightly extending onto folio 35 verso opposite; D17822) and the cylindrical Byward Tower and Bell Tower at the centre. This is one of a number of sketches which informed Turner’s watercolour of the Tower of about 1825 (private collection),1 as discussed in the entry for folio 34 recto (D17819), the closest to the finished design.
At the top left is a study apparently showing two paddle steamers moored side by side, which seems to be the source of the central detail of the Lord Melville and Talbot in the subsequent watercolour, albeit in reverse;2 compare the detail of shipping on folio 34 verso (D17820).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.515.
See also van der Merwe 1991, p.13, and Warrell 2014, p.121.
Technical notes:
John Ruskin’s customary red ink page number beside the later stamp is not readily apparent here, although those on other leaves of this sketchbook are generally very faint.

Matthew Imms
November 2014

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