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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Durham Cathedral: The Interior, Looking East along the South Aisle 1797-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Durham Cathedral: The Interior, Looking East along the South Aisle 1797–8
Turner Bequest XXXVI G
Watercolour and scraping-out on white wove paper, 758 x 579 mm laid down ?by Turner on brown board
Stamped in black ‘XXXVI – G’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This watercolour is based (with variations) on a drawing in the Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate D01015; Turner Bequest XXXV 12). Despite its impressive atmosphere and rich tonality, and the fact that Turner himself may have given the drawing a stout board backing, it is not a finished work: the rendering of foreground details is generalised, and there are no figures apart from some distant suggestions. A comparison with the highly wrought interiors of Westminster and Ely, which were all exhibited at the Royal Academy (respectively British Museum, London, private collection, Aberdeen Art Gallery),1 points up the technical differences between finished and unfinished works.
Turner made a smaller finished view of the interior of the cathedral;2 it is executed in grey and buff washes over pencil, reinforced with pen and brown ink, and measures 248 x 165 mm. The drawing reappeared on the art market at Christie’s, London, 21 November 2002 (42). It was engraved by S. Porter and published in the 1802 second edition of T. Warton’s Essays on Gothic Architecture (Tate impression: T05939). Here, too, the human figure appears only as a minute and distant contrast to the colossal scale of the architecture.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, pp.314 no.138, reproduced, 321 nos.194 and 195, reproduced.
Ibid., p.330 no.276, as untraced.
Blank (formerly laid down).

Andrew Wilton
January 2013

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Durham Cathedral: The Interior, Looking East along the South Aisle 1797–8 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-durham-cathedral-the-interior-looking-east-along-the-south-r1150260, accessed 14 August 2022.