Stamford, Lincolnshire (1828)
In 1825 Charles Heath commissioned an engraved series known as ‘Picturesque Views In England and Wales’ 1825-1838.
An ambitious project for which Turner created some of his finest watercolours, including this painting, 120 of which would be chosen for engraving and subsequent publishing.
A topological drawing was often the starting point from which Turner developed the final work. Situated half way between London and York, Stamford was a natural place to break the journey by stagecoach on the Great North Road. Stamford had a number of coaching inns as by 1830, 30 stagecoaches and 40 mail coaches passed through the town each day.
Turner shows figures alighting from a northbound coach crossing to the Bull and Swan Inn – as a frequent traveller Turner would be aware of the physical discomfort and activity of the central figures who are essential to the composition and subject of the painting.
The view looks north down the High street, St Martin’s Stamford with the tower of St Martin’s church in bright sunshine against the dark thunderclouds, the spires of All Saints and St Mary’s and the tower of St John the Baptist can be seen in the distance. However, Turner has distorted the actual view in front of him to create this scene. By altering the scale and angle of the street, St Martin’s appears much larger than it actually is. Although the church is dominant, the topological detail of the painting is secondary to the creation of atmospheric effect. The broad masses of colour and tone achieve a balanced and coherent foundation for a complex and dramatic composition.
About the Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
Turner was the son of a barber and print seller based in Covent Garden. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1789 and travelled widely in Britain, touring the Midlands, Wales, the Lake District and Scotland. In 1799 he was elected Associate of the Royal Academy and in 1802 made his first visit to the continent, touring France and Switzerland. He was elected Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy in 1807. H In the following years he travelled widely in Europe, including Germany, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Venice and northern Italy.