Joseph Mallord William Turner

Totnes Church and Castle across the Racecourse


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 170 × 209 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIV 40

Catalogue entry

Totnes is seen from the north-east across the plain of the River Dart, with the tower of St Mary’s Church and the castle keep among the trees on the skyline to its west. The house with dormer windows below the castle still stands at the end of Priory Drive. The viewpoint is the Newton Abbott road by which Turner approached the town. It passes beside the river, and he drew the town’s bridge crossing it to the south from the same spot or nearby on folio 39 recto (D08854).
The racecourse noted in the inscription was a track forming a loop around Broad Marsh and bordered on two sides by the Dart; maps indicate its survival into the twentieth century, latterly as a golf course, but is now covered by the industrial estate off Babbage Road, screened by trees along the bank.
There are other views of Totnes in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08541, D08542, D08625; Turner Bequest CXXIII 91, 91a, 136), and in the later Devon Rivers, No.2 sketchbook (Tate D09726, D09746; Turner Bequest CXXXIII 48, 61).
Blank, save for very faint inscription by John Ruskin in red ink ‘9’ bottom left, upside down. Tears have been repaired at the top left.

Matthew Imms
February 2011

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