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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study; Sunset view of a Continental City with a Bridge c.1832-9

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study; Sunset view of a Continental City with a Bridge circa 1832–9
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 96
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 188 x 115 mm on off-white London board, 311 x 192 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(96’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 96’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner painted a number of small landscape studies which appear to be views of Continental locations. Although the rounded and borderless format suggests that they were designed as vignettes, they have not yet been securely identified with any of Turner’s illustration projects. There are a number of such watercolours in the Turner Bequest (see Tate D27540; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 23). In light of watermarks found on two sheets within the group, this study has been dated circa 1832–9.
This unfinished study shows a sun setting over a Continental city. Turner depicts a fiery sunset sky with the sun as a white disc above a river. In pencil he has drawn a bridge and a city dominated by two large towers. The view may have been conceived as a pair with a similarly constructed view of a city at night (see Tate D27615; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 98). Both studies show a bridge in the foreground, as well as several towers on the right side of the composition, and are executed on the same pinkish paper.1 The two works bear considerable stylistic similarities to Turner’s preliminary sketches for Thomas Moore’s The Epicurean (1839) and may be related to this project.
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Technical notes:
The sheet bears a watermark ‘J. Whatman | Turkey Mill | 1832’ and a blind embossed stamp ‘SUPERFINE | [Arms of the City of London] | LONDON BOARD’. London Board was a type of artists’ board sold by most colourmen.1
Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, pp.114–15.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX 96’ bottom right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Vignette Study; Sunset view of a Continental City with a Bridge c.1832–9 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, 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-vignette-study-sunset-view-of-a-continental-city-with-a-r1133865, accessed 13 June 2024.