Joseph Mallord William Turner

Worcester Cathedral from the River Severn


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 81

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, Worcester Cathedral is seen to the north-east above the River Severn. Various structures no longer survive; the buildings Turner recorded can be compared with those in a watercolour study by Joseph Farington (1747–1821) of about 1789 (Tate T08447), drawn from slightly to the south; see also under folio 4 verso (D22157). Although effectively from a single viewpoint, Turner’s study of the complex interrelationships of the buildings has become slightly disjointed, in that the riverfront walls at the bottom left and right should be continuous on a single level. At the top right are details of the tracery and a pinnacle of the cathedral’s tower. Turner pushed the page in from the outer edge to continue the view along the river to the left on folio 84 recto (D22305; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 83).
The details here informed the watercolour Worcester of about 1834 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1835 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impression: T06117), although its overall composition is based on the sketches on folios 81 verso and 83 verso (D22300, D22304; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 80a, 82a). Turner’s largely illegible inscription at the foot of the present page may refer to fishing on the Severn; in the watercolour girls are shown in the foreground trapping eels2 from a punt.
For other views of Worcester, see under folio 2 verso (D22154).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Wilton 1979, p.401 no.862, reproduced; see also Shanes 1979, p.156, and Shanes 1990, p.286 note 185.
See Shanes 1990, p.241.

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