Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views of Town, with Shipping


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 59 × 96 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXV 53

Catalogue entry

These three sketches of a town seen from across a river have been identified as Liverpool seen from Birkenhead across the Mersey. The sketches continue from folio 52 verso (D25736). The sketch across the centre of the page contains the key architectural evidence. At the left is the dome of St Paul’s Church with the dome of Liverpool Town Hall at the centre and the steeples and spires of the Parish Church of St Nicholas, St George (Derby Square) and St Thomas (Park Lane) to the right. At the left the sketch continues on folio 52 verso with the tower of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the coast of Birkenhead in the foreground. Turner made a similar view in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border sketchbook (Tate D25773–D25774; Turner Bequest CCLXVI 6a–7). The other two sketches show the shoreline to the east with the masts of boats moored at Prince’s Docks.
Several writers have noted Turner’s inscription at the centre of this page, ‘Cypp’, referring to the Dutch Painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620–91).1 The note appears in conjunction with the sun’s orb and its reflection in the water, exactly as it does on a page of the Staffa sketchbook, also used on this tour (Tate D26903; Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 82a). In both cases Turner used the artist’s name as a shorthand to indicate the appearance of a landscape with water washed by the yellow hue of a low sun.

Thomas Ardill
May 2010

Jack Lindsay, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work: A Critical Biography, London 1966, p.226 note 25; Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.69.

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