Joseph Mallord William Turner

Westminster Abbey and the Ruins of the Old Houses of Parliament from Old Palace Yard


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 79 × 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXXI 13 a

Catalogue entry

As Sarah Taft has noted, Ian Warrell was the first to identify this drawing and a few others in this sketchbook as relating to Turner’s slightly unfinished watercolour of The Burning of the Houses of Parliament, of about 1834–5 (Tate D36235; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 373).1 This view shows Westminster Abbey on the left and part of the Palace of Westminster on the right, looking north from Old Palace Yard, in a reprise of the sketch on folio 12 verso (D27746), under which the subject is discussed further; see also the sketchbook’s Introduction.
See Taft 2007, p.181; the fire had been mentioned in general terms in connection with this sketchbook in Ian Warrell, ‘Exploring the “Dark Side”: Ruskin and the Problem of Turner’s Erotica’, with ‘A Checklist of Erotic Sketches in the Turner Bequest’, British Art Journal, vol.4, no.1, Spring 2003, p.28.
Technical notes:
There is some watercolour offsetting at the lower left. The leaf has been tipped in on the recto of a prominent stub, and the neat but not quite straight edge towards the gutter evident on the recto (D27747) indicates that it had been cut out freehand, although the purpose of its removal is unclear: if for exhibition, such an occasion is not recorded.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


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