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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Old London Bridge with Piledrivers on the River Thames ?1824

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 8 Recto:
Old London Bridge with Piledrivers on the River Thames ?1824
Turner Bequest CCV 8
Pencil on white wove paper, 98 x 162 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Red Cap’ centre right, and ‘Red [?parts to waistcoat]’ and ‘Timber’ below left of centre
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘8’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCV – 8’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This view shows the southern end of the upstream side of Old London Bridge from the west, focusing on the early stages of building operations for its replacement, which began in March 1824. The vertical features are piledrivers used in establishing coffer-dams in the river to facilitate the construction of the new bridge’s piers. The wisp of smoke towards the left comes from a smoke-stack above the hull of a vessel, apparently steam-powered itself or bearing a steam engine on its deck. As so often, Turner has made careful written notes of the workers’ dress. Around the right-hand end of the drawing are supplementary sketches of the waterfront.
More than half the drawings in this sketchbook show the river around the bridge, and are likely to date from 1824; see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Old London Bridge with Piledrivers on the River Thames ?1824 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-old-london-bridge-with-piledrivers-on-the-river-thames-r1172559, accessed 20 July 2024.