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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Chain Gate, Wells 1811

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 188 Recto:
The Chain Gate, Wells 1811
Turner Bequest CXXIII 185
Pencil on white wove writing paper, 75 x 117 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘angels’ bottom right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘185’ top left, ascending vertically
Stamped in black ‘CXXIII – 185’ top right, ascending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The exterior of Wells Cathedral’s chapter house is shown towards the top left. The upper storey of the Chain Gate is a corridor running south-north between the cathedral and the Vicars’ Close to the right. This rough drawing continues on folio 187 verso opposite (D08708; CXXIII 184a) with the lower part of the structure. Turner’s inscription refers to figures in a recessed, carved bas relief panel over the right-hand (north) arch. The stone is now badly worn, but figures to left and right, possibly winged, and what may be a flying or hovering figure above with outstretched arms can just be made out.
A drawing by Henry Edridge (1769–1821) shows the whole of this façade (Tate T10102) in a degree of detail comparable with Turner’s own, rather more considered 1795 sketch of the far side of the structure from the Cathedral Green side in the Smaller South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00464; Turner Bequest XXV 3).
There is a slight sketch of the cathedral on folio 190 recto (D08711; CXXIII 187).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘The Chain Gate, Wells 1811 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2011, 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-chain-gate-wells-r1137187, accessed 17 January 2022.