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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Arches of Bideford Bridge 1814

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 79 Verso:
The Arches of Bideford Bridge 1814
Turner Bequest CXXXII 79a
Pencil on white wove paper, 90 x 152 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘24’ towards top right below arches
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Eric Shanes has recognised the sketch on folio 66 recto (D09550) as a view of Barnstaple Bridge, with its sixteen arches over the River Taw (which Finberg misidentified as the twenty-four-arched bridge at nearby Bideford). The drawings in between, on folios 67 recto, 68 recto, 69 recto and 70 recto (D09551–D09554), noted by Finberg as the ‘same bridge’ (i.e. supposedly Bideford) are therefore also identifiable as of Barnstaple Bridge.
However, the two drawings of a similar bridge on this page and folio 79 recto (D09564) do indeed, as Finberg suggested, show Bideford, as the annotation ‘24’ here indicates.1 This is a very summary drawing; only the arches of the bridge are indicated, as a series of rough semi-circles. The arches of the actual medieval bridge are of irregular widths, but the sketch cannot claim to reflect their spacing precisely. The irregular outline towards the top right may be a hillside beyond, as seen on the more direct drawing on the recto (D09564), under which other views in the Bideford area are noted.

Matthew Imms
June 2014

Shanes 1997, pp.59, 92 note 2 under no.40; for the watercolour, see p.58 no.39, reproduced (colour).

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘The Arches of Bideford Bridge 1814 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 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-the-arches-of-bideford-bridge-r1147112, accessed 06 June 2020.