Joseph Mallord William Turner

Worcester: Boats near the Severn Bridge with Churches and the Cathedral Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 2 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch of Worcester continues across folio 3 recto opposite (D22155). The viewpoint is the west bank of the River Severn below Hylton Road, looking east to the tower of All Saints Church. The east end of the bridge is shown here, but most of the structure appears on the opposite page, with Worcester Cathedral and St Andrew’s Church beyond.
The prominent building towards the right of the present page survives at the corner of North Parade and Bridge Street, albeit partly obscured by a later warehouse facing the river. There is an isolated architectural detail in the sky above All Saints. The overall composition is repeated on folio 4 recto (D22156) from a little to the north viewpoint.
The cathedral city of Worcester, county town of Worcestershire, stands on the River Severn about 140 miles north-west of London. From the distribution of studies clustered at both ends of this sketchbook, it seems likely that it was the first calling point on Turner’s route up the Severn to Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury as he travelled north (see the sketchbook’s Introduction). He had last visited Worcester in the early 1790s, making an unusual view of the cathedral through an arch of the Severn bridge (Tate D00152; Turner Bequest XIII G), and pencil views of the cathedral and King Edgar’s Gate (both Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts), the latter resulting in a watercolour (Indianapolis Museum of Art).1 The watercolour Worcester Cathedral, West Front of about 1794–5 (British Museum),2 was based on a pencil drawing now at Indianapolis. Another watercolour (untraced)3 was engraved in 1795.
Other views in and around Worcester in the front half of the present sketchbook are on folios 4 recto and verso, 5 recto and verso, 6 recto, 7 verso, 10 verso (D22156–D22160, D22162, D22168). Those at the back, probably made working inwards, are on folios 81 verso, 82 recto and verso, 83 recto and verso, 84 recto, 86 verso, 87 recto and verso, 88 recto and verso, and 89 verso (D22300–D22305, D22310–D22314, D22316; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 80a, 81, 81a, 82, 82a, 83, 85a, 86, 86a, 87, 87a, 88a), and perhaps folio 89 recto (D22315; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 88).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.314 no.135, reproduced.
Ibid., p.308 no.67, pl.16.
Ibid., p.312 no.110.

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