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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Bridge at Pontypridd ?1798

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The Bridge at Pontypridd ?1798
Turner Bequest XXXI A
Pencil and grey, blue and brown wash on white wove paper, 272 x 379 mm
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘XXXI A’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This composition, no doubt intended for copying by the pupils whose names appear in the inscription on the verso, may have been derived from drawings Turner made on tour in South Wales. There is a rapid study of the bridge in its setting in his Swans sketchbook (Tate D01709, D01710; Turner Bequest XLII 34–35), and a drawing in the Cyfarthfa sketchbook (Tate D01641; Turner Bequest XLI 12) is a view of the bridge in a rolling landscape; both were done on the Welsh tour of 1798.
This copy-drawing is couched in a simpler Picturesque format, with the bridge placed centrally between balanced repoussoirs, and may belong to a year or two earlier, though its assured, free manner is consistent with a date around 1798. We have no evidence that Turner passed through Pontypridd on his South Wales tour of 1795, but he may have taken his design from a print or a drawing by another artist. The stone bridge, which spans the River Taff, was famous as the longest single-arch span in the world when it was built by William Edwards in 1756.
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Pont ye-Prydd | Glamorganshire | Sarah Susannah [?Smart] | Fanny Br[...]’, with colour trials

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘The Bridge at Pontypridd ?1798 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2012, 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-the-bridge-at-pontypridd-r1140070, accessed 17 June 2021.