J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Bridgnorth across the River Severn from the East ?1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 7 Recto:
Bridgnorth across the River Severn from the East ?1831
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 7
Pencil on white wove paper, 114 x 191 mm
Partial watermark ‘R Ba | 18’
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘7’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXXXIX – 7’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Bridgnorth is viewed from the east bank of the River Severn, with the classical tower and dome of St Mary Magdalene’s Church on the left, designed by the engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834) and begun in 1792,1 two years before Turner’s first visit to the town. On the right is the tower of St Leonard’s Church (rebuilt in the 1860s),2 above the Severn Bridge, rebuilt in 1795 and 1823, latterly by Telford.3
The latter structure replaced the medieval bridge and gatehouse recorded by Turner in the 1794 Matlock sketchbook (Tate D00227, D00228; Turner Bequest XIX 19, 20). The roadbed has since been widened but the whole scene remains much as Turner recorded it. The skyline is continued on folio 6 verso opposite (D41054). There is a similar view from a little further south on folios 80 verso–81 recto (D22298, D22299; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 79a, 80). For other views of Bridgnorth, see under folio 1 recto (D22151).
The subject was incorrectly identified as Newcastle upon Tyne (for which see under folio 8 recto; D22163) by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) and the watercolour and Turner scholar C.F. Bell (died 1966) in undated manuscript notes in copies of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory,4 where it had been initially and incorrectly published as Worcester (see under folio 2 verso; D22154), although Finberg added doubtfully: ‘Did he go so far north as Newcastle this time?’5

Matthew Imms
April 2014

See Nikolaus Pevsner, Shropshire, The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1958, p.80.
Ibid., p.79.
See ‘Severn Bridge, Bridgnorth’, British Listed Buildings, accessed 24 September 2013, http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-254352-severn-bridge-bridgnorth-.
A.J. Finberg, undated MS notes in a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.II, p.733; C.F. Bell, undated MS notes in another copy at the same location, vol.II, p.733.
Ibid., on blank interleaved page opposite p.733 of Finberg’s copy.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Bridgnorth across the River Severn from the East ?1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-bridgnorth-across-the-river-severn-from-the-east-r1148807, accessed 21 October 2021.