About this artwork

Turner views Durham castle and the city's cathedral from a bridge over the River Wear in this atmospheric watercolour. The corner parapet of the bridge at the right provides a sense of immediacy and scale to the scene. This highly finished work, based on earlier drawings of 1801, was produced to be engraved as an illustration in 'Picturesque Views in England and Wales' which was commissioned by the publisher Charles Heath. Turner took great care in supervising work on the engraver's plate, which resulted in one of the finest prints in the series. The publication, however, was not a commercial success.

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Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner transformed the art of landscape painting in Britain. From detailed topographical studies to expansive, atmospheric vistas his works celebrate the diversity and emotive power of nature. He was born in Covent Garden, the son of a barber, and exhibited his earliest sketches in his father's shop before studying at the Royal Academy Schools. Turner became the youngest ever full member of the Royal Academy in 1802. His experimental use of watercolour and oils achieved stunning effects, attracting contemporary criticism and praise. Turner's admiration of past masters, above all Claude Lorraine, and the numerous sketches made on many tours in Britain and abroad, provided the basis for his 'sublime' land and seascapes.