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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Worcester: Boats near the Severn Bridge with Churches and the Cathedral Beyond ?1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 3 Recto:
Worcester: Boats near the Severn Bridge with Churches and the Cathedral Beyond ?1831
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 3
Pencil on white wove paper, 114 x 191 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘1 ¾’ top left, ascending vertically, ‘[?1]’, ‘5’, ‘4’, ‘R’, ‘W’ and ‘R’ above skyline towards top left, ‘W’ through arch left of centre, ‘[?W]’ in reflection at centre, and a draft of poetry along top (see main catalogue entry)
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘3’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXXXIX – 3’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This sketch of Worcester continues across folio 2 verso opposite (D22154), where All Saints Church is seen to the east. The viewpoint is the west bank of the Severn below Hylton Road; on this page, looking south-east down the River Severn, John Gwynn’s 1781 bridge is shown. It remains much the same as depicted in early nineteenth-century engravings (Worcester City Museums), except for the demolition around 1932 of the twin domed tollhouses Turner shows on the right.1 Above it is St Andrew’s Church, drawn by Turner with the upper stage of its tower and steeple (the only part of the building to survive today) detached to the left, perhaps suggesting that the inscription discussed below was present already and impeded him at this point. Worcester Cathedral stands beyond.
The overall composition is repeated on folio 4 recto (D22156) from a little to the north. For other views of Worcester, see under D22154.
The main inscription, not mentioned by Finberg, comprises about a dozen words of poetry: ‘[...]ed as the Star of Eve when [?Twylight] [... (one word overwriting another)] | [...] struggles with’. The word ‘struggles’ overwrites or is overwritten by another word, beginning with ‘E’. There is a similarly worded attempt among the sketches on folio 4 verso (D22157), and longer passages on folios 70 recto and verso and 71 recto (D22277–D22279; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 69, 69a, 70), under the last of which their significance is discussed.
For images and notes on the bridge see ‘Resources – Old Pictures and Photographs of Worcester: The River and Bridge’, Worcester City Museums, accessed 23 September 2013, http://www.worcestercitymuseums.org.uk/content/oldpics/river.htm.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Worcester: Boats near the Severn Bridge with Churches and the Cathedral Beyond ?1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2014, 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-worcester-boats-near-the-severn-bridge-with-churches-and-the-r1148800, accessed 18 September 2021.