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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Durham from Old Durham 1817

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 12 Recto:
Durham from Old Durham 1817
Turner Bequest CLVII 12
Pencil on white wove paper, 116 x 185 mm
Part watermark ‘J Wh | 18’
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘12’ bottom right (now very faint)
Stamped in black ‘CLVII – 12’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Seen from the direction of Old Durham, the east end of Durham Cathedral dominates the skyline across the Wear Valley. The central tower is shaded, perhaps as an indication of afternoon sunshine. To its right is the bare outline of the castle, and to its right in turn what is probably the tower of St Nicholas’s Church (before its Victorian reconstruction and the addition of a spire).1 On the slopes leading up to Whinney Hill on the near side of the cathedral is the new prison, under construction since 1809 but not occupied until 1819.2 The low-lying foreground, within a loop of the Wear and formerly a racecourse, is now occupied by Durham University’s sports grounds. There is a very slight continuation to the left on folio 11 verso opposite (D40922), and a similar view on folios 13 recto and 14 recto (D12333, D12334).
This is one of a continuous run of drawings of Durham, beginning on folio 6 recto (D12325) and concluding on folio 14 recto (D12334), with one further sketch on folio 76 verso (D12414). For Turner’s other visits to the city, see the entry for D12325.
‘St. Nicholas Church, Durham – A Guide for Visitors’, St. Nicholas Church, The Marketplace, Durham, accessed 19 August 2009, http://www.stnics.org.uk/stnics/guide.htm.
‘The History of Durham Prison: The New Prison’, Crime and Punishment in Durham, 1750–1900, accessed 19 August 2009, http://www.dur.ac.uk/4schools/Crime/Durhamprison3.htm,

Matthew Imms
February 2010

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Durham from Old Durham 1817 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2010, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-durham-from-old-durham-r1139333, accessed 28 November 2020.