Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tintern Abbey: The Crossing and Chancel, Looking towards the East Window


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 359 × 250 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXIII A

Display caption

In the 1790s Turner made a series of tours throughout Britain. He was looking for Picturesque and historical subjects for watercolours that he intended to sell or show in exhibitions.

Turner had sketched Tintern Abbey, in South Wales, on a tour in 1792. The area was one of the most visited tourist spots in Britain. William Wordsworth also visited the area in these years. His poem, Tintern Abbey (1798) revealed the complex historical, political and emotional associations the ruin had for people at the time.  

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

This view is derived from the pencil drawing made on the spot (Tate D00134; Turner Bequest XII E). Although apparently a completed work, a small area of reserved paper lower centre indicates that this is not in fact finished. It is a study for the watercolour exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1794 (402), now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (1683–1871).1
A similar view looking into the transept is in the Lloyd Bequest, British Museum, London (1958–7–12–400).2 A variant is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford,3 and the composition is repeated in several views of the ruins by other artists, notably by Edward Dayes (1763–1804).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.307 no.57, reproduced.
Ibid., p.307 no.59, reproduced; see also Kim Sloan, J.M.W.Turner: Watercolours from the R.W. Lloyd Bequest to the British Museum, London 1998, p.40 no.3, reproduced in colour p.[41].
Wilton 1979, p.307 no.58, reproduced.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

Read full Catalogue entry



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