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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Spire of Christchurch, Coventry; the Head of a Woman in a Bonnet or Mob Cap c.1830

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 12 Recto:
The Spire of Christchurch, Coventry; the Head of a Woman in a Bonnet or Mob Cap c.1830
Turner Bequest CCXL 12
Pencil on white wove paper, 110 x 68 mm
Inscribed by Turner ‘C[...]al’ bottom centre
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘12’ top right, ascending vertically
Stamped in black ‘CCXL – 12’ top right, ascending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Both the sketches here were made with the page turned vertically. At the bottom left is the spire and upper tower of Christchurch, Coventry; only the tower and spire now stand, off New Union Street. These elements of the original church, the Greyfriars, had survived Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, and the construction of a new church, added onto the tower, had begun in March 1830, shortly before Turner’s visit. However, the main body of the new church, opened in 1832, was destroyed in an air raid in April 1941.1 For other Coventry views, see under folio 9 verso (D22336).
Andrew Wilton has related this sketch and that on the verso (D22342) to the possible study on folio 7 recto (D22333) for the oil painting Jessica, exhibited in 1830 (Tate T03887; displayed at Petworth House, West Sussex),2 as perhaps ‘initial ideas for this or other works of the same kind’.3
Ian Warrell describes the drawings here and on the verso (D22342) as ‘a couple of portrait studies of young women, possibly Turner’s travelling companions, demonstrating his susceptibility to female charms’, comparing the sketches to one in the Arundel and Shoreham sketchbook (Tate D22872; Turner Bequest CCXLV 54a),4 inscribed ‘Brown Eyes’.
For other figure studies in this sketchbook, see under folio 1 verso (D22324).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

See [Rob Orland], ‘Christchurch, New Union Street’, Historic Coventry, accessed 1 July 2013, http://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/tour/christchurch.php .
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.186–7 no.333, pl.333 (colour)
Wilton 1989, p.21.
Warrell 2003, p.23.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘The Spire of Christchurch, Coventry; the Head of a Woman in a Bonnet or Mob Cap c.1830 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2013, 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-spire-of-christchurch-coventry-the-head-of-a-woman-in-a-r1148491, accessed 26 January 2022.