Joseph Mallord William Turner

Wakefield Bridge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 210 × 270 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXIV 10

Catalogue entry

The Chantry Chapel of St Mary on the bridge over the River Calder at Wakefield, built in 1342, was a popular subject with antiquarian topographers. Turner made another study of the bridge in his Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate D01004; Turner Bequest XXXV 1a). A larger pencil study of this subject is Tate D01095 (Turner Bequest XXXVI A), and a finished watercolour is in the British Museum, London.1 He made a small view of Wakefield (currently untraced),2 though not apparently relying on this drawing, for the Copper Plate Magazine, June 1798 (Tate impression: T05903). David Hill suggests that this was executed some years prior to the 1797 tour, presumably from a drawing by another artist; the general composition of the Copper Plate subject would support an earlier dating. The tall spire in the left background is that of the Parish Church of All Saints, at 247 feet (75 metres) the highest in Yorkshire. The church became a cathedral in 1888.
The subject is drawn with the page turned horizontally.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.326 no.241, reproduced.
Ibid., p.312 no.101.
Blank; inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘GD’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram. The initials may refer to a patron who had asked for a watercolour of the subject of Wakefield Bridge, drawn on the recto; or the inscription may apply to the drawing on folio 11 recto opposite (D00916; Turner Bequest XXXIV 10a, removed for display by John Ruskin and not certainly from this position in the book, though it is likely to be correct).

Andrew Wilton
January 2013

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