Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Rouen Cathedral’ c.1832
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Rouen Cathedral c.1832 . Tate

Room 4 in Turner Collection

Turner and Gothic Cathedrals

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Art in Turner and Gothic Cathedrals

Rouen Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rouen Cathedral
c.1832

Salisbury Cathedral from the East

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Salisbury Cathedral from the East
c.1798

Durham Cathedral

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after Joseph Mallord William Turner
Durham Cathedral
1836

St-Denis

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
St-Denis
c.1833

This is one of the forty designs which were engraved for the two volumes of views on the River Seine (published 1834 and 1835). Although St Denis is ostensibly the subject of this image, the ancient cathedral is relegated to the distance, and even the activities of the people in the foreground are of secondary interest to the enveloping coolness of the moonlight. In much the same way that many of Turner's later paintings present forms outlined by the strong sunlight at the centre of his image, he is here exploiting the subdued silhouettes created by a full moon.

Gallery label, September 2004

Llandaff: The West Front of the Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Llandaff: The West Front of the Cathedral
1795–6

Turner shows several figures in a graveyard. Two girls are dancing on a tombstone to a fiddler's tune. Turner's use of such a motif in this context is a telling allusion to Time and the contrast between Life and Death. Through it, Turner links himself to a tradition of graveyard meditations which embraces Edward Young and Thomas Gray (no.48). With Turner, as with Blake (see no.49), the way this tradition could inform the Romantic sensibility and even touch life itself can be seen in both artist's associations with Westminster Abbey. In a 1793 watercolour of the interior of the Abbey, Turner's signature is put as an inscription on a floor slab as though it is his own tombstone.

Gallery label, August 2004

Lausanne, Cathedral and Bridge

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Lausanne, Cathedral and Bridge
c.1841

Winchester: The West Front of the Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Winchester: The West Front of the Cathedral
1795

Sketch for a ‘Rivers of England’ Series Drawing of Durham Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Sketch for a ‘Rivers of England’ Series Drawing of Durham Cathedral
c.1824

This sketch bears an extremely close resemblance to the 'England and Wales' series representation of Durham Cathedral (National Gallery of Scotland), dating from 1836. However, its size suggests that it was created in connection with the 'Rivers of England' engraving scheme, and thus around 1824. But the artist did not develop the image any further at that time, and so it seems likely that he finally elaborated it for the 'England and Wales' series about twelve or so years after he had first tested it here.

Gallery label, August 2004

The Ruined Monastery at Wolf

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Ruined Monastery at Wolf
c.1839

The solitary ruins of Wolf form an impressive sight as the traveller approaches Traben and Trarbach down the Mosel, particularly at sunset. The river winds its way through the hills in one of the loops for which it is so famous and travellers following its course see the spectacular ruins from an ever-changing succession of viewpoints.

Gallery label, August 1991

Water and Trees with a Distant Spire, Possibly at Chichester, Lichfield or Bedford

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Water and Trees with a Distant Spire, Possibly at Chichester, Lichfield or Bedford
c.1829–32

Interior of the ?Collegiate Church at Eu

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Interior of the ?Collegiate Church at Eu
1845

Oxford: The Interior of Christ Church Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Oxford: The Interior of Christ Church Cathedral
c.1798

This is an extremely rare example of Turner breaking the rules of perspective to show horizontal lines parallel to the picture plane as converging. According to the rules of perspective all such lines should be represented by lines that are horizontal on the surface of the picture. However, Turner has shown the upper horizontal parts of the nave and transept sloping down to a vanishing point outside the left edge of the painting.

Gallery label, September 2004

Rouen Cathedral, Normandy

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rouen Cathedral, Normandy
c.1832

Rouen, Looking Downstream

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rouen, Looking Downstream
c.1832

The Interior of the Galilee Porch, Ely Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Interior of the Galilee Porch, Ely Cathedral
1794

Tours Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Tours Cathedral
c.1826–8

Orléans, Loire Valley

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Orléans, Loire Valley
c.1826–8

?Chichester Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
?Chichester Cathedral
c.1828–38

Holy Island Cathedral, engraved by Charles Turner

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Holy Island Cathedral, engraved by Charles Turner
1808

The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame and St-Laurent at Eu

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame and St-Laurent at Eu
1845

Lichfield Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Lichfield Cathedral
c.1832

Eu: The Cathedral from the East

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Eu: The Cathedral from the East
1845

Salisbury, Wiltshire

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after Joseph Mallord William Turner
Salisbury, Wiltshire
1830

The West End of Milan Cathedral from the Piazza del Duomo

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The West End of Milan Cathedral from the Piazza del Duomo
1819

Orléans Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Orléans Cathedral
c.1826–8

Tower of Antwerp Cathedral

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Tower of Antwerp Cathedral
1825

?Worcester Cathedral from the River Severn

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
?Worcester Cathedral from the River Severn
c.1834

Salisbury Cathedral: The Choir, Looking East towards the Lady Chapel

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Salisbury Cathedral: The Choir, Looking East towards the Lady Chapel
c.1797

Lausanne: The Cathedral from the South-West

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Lausanne: The Cathedral from the South-West
c.1844

Turner made a long series of watercolour studies of Lausanne. The majority date from 1841. Set on a steep hill beside Lake Geneva, looking towards the Savoy mountains, the town was one of his favourite subjects. Turner's views of it, unlike those of certain other Swiss towns like Fribourg, are usually populated with the bustle of a thriving community. Here, however, he has raised his eyes from the streets or the shores of the lake to study a simple group of buildings.

Gallery label, August 2004

Lichfield Cathedral from the South-West

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Lichfield Cathedral from the South-West
1794

During the summer of 1794 Turner toured the midlands and Wales in response to an early commission to produce designs for engraving. This view of Lichfield cathedral is one of the more detailed drawings he made on the spot but it was never translated into print. Nearly 30 years after the first midland tour, however, Turner retrieved the pencil sketch to use as the basis for a finished watercolour. While the latter is now in a private collection, its preparatory colour study forms part of the Turner Bequest. The corresponding paint splashes on the 1794 drawing prove that Turner kept his earlier sketches with a view to their potential for later use.

Gallery label, September 2004

Art in this room

Rouen Cathedral
Joseph Mallord William Turner Rouen Cathedral c.1832
Salisbury Cathedral from the East
Joseph Mallord William Turner Salisbury Cathedral from the East c.1798
Durham Cathedral
after Joseph Mallord William Turner Durham Cathedral 1836
St-Denis
Joseph Mallord William Turner St-Denis c.1833
Llandaff: The West Front of the Cathedral
Joseph Mallord William Turner Llandaff: The West Front of the Cathedral 1795–6
Lausanne, Cathedral and Bridge
Joseph Mallord William Turner Lausanne, Cathedral and Bridge c.1841

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