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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Bridge at Crevoladossola; also a Castle by a Lake 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 7 Verso:
The Bridge at Crevoladossola; also a Castle by a Lake 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 6 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 111 x 186 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘wc’, ‘rc’ and ‘6’ within main sketch
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Federico Crimi has identified the subject of the main sketch on this page as the bridge at Crevoladossola, a town near the Swiss/Italian border where the River Diveria meets the River Toce.1 Turner visited the town during a diversionary expedition from the Italian Lakes to the Simplon Pass in the Alps, and the road into the mountains took him directly through Crevoladossola where he was impressed by the newly built bridge erected by Napoleon at the beginning of the nineteenth century in order to improve access to the mountains. An impressive feat of engineering, the tall crossing was constructed using wooden supports spanning a central pier (today these have been replaced by stone arches). This view depicts the southern side of the bridge with the mountains rising in the background. Further sketches can be found on folios 80 verso and 84 (D14303 and D14306; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 81a and 83), as well as in the Passage of the Simplon sketchbook (see for example Tate D16932; Turner Bequest CXCIV 23).
Crimi has stated that the drawing cannot have been executed directly in front of the subject,2 and there is certainly an odd disparity between the careful, detailed style of this study, and the rough, schematic sketches on successive pages. Furthermore, the presence of a view of Crevoladossola at this point in the Turin, Como, Lugarno, Maggiore sketchbook does not fit in with Turner’s travel itinerary. Crimi believes that the prospect could have been copied from a print. However, it is possible that Turner simply made arbitrary use of a spare, blank sheet, regardless of the disruption this presented within the logical order of the pages. An alternative explanation would be that when the sketchbook was broken up during the nineteenth century,3 an error was made in numbering the leaves and the book was subsequently reassembled incorrectly. For further information about the physical order of the pages see the sketchbook introduction.
There is a second, smaller sketch parallel with the left-hand edge of the sketchbook, depicting a castle with cylindrical towers which appears to be standing beside a lake, possibly Lake Maggiore.4

Nicola Moorby
December 2012

Crimi 2006, p.185 note 13 and Crimi 2007, p.23 note 16.
Crimi 2007, p.23 note 18.
See Finberg 1909, p.507.
Crimi 2006, p.185 note 13.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The Bridge at Crevoladossola; also a Castle by a Lake 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 2012, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, August 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-the-bridge-at-crevoladossola-also-a-castle-by-a-lake-r1142680, accessed 24 May 2024.