top of page

Turner's View of Greenwich

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Update - 3 Nov 2020 - Anthony Cross of Warwick Leadlay Gallery and Greenwich Historical Society presents Home of Time and Space - a personal selection of images Greenwich past and present. Book Now

The name Turner is renowned in the art world and has recently been in the news because one of his masterpieces will be featured on the new £20 note. He also famously painted London from Greenwich, and this painting is one of our Greenwich objects.

Turner painted the view from the Royal Observatory in 1809. He was inspired by the wave of metropolitan expansion and modernisation of London[1]. This is why the oil panting includes scaffolding. London began to evolve, and Turner captured this movement by contrasting the deer with the vibrant city in the near distance.

The view from the royal observatory today is rather different to the view from the 1800s. At present the view is off a less ‘green’ London and features Highrise buildings, such as Canary Wharf. Although the view from the observatory has changed significantly, the nature featured is still present. The deer featured in Turner’s artwork are still present in Greenwich Park. The park is the oldest deer park in London[2], which shows the attraction of deer has never changed since 1809.

When the artwork was first exhibited in Turner’s gallery, his own verses where featured next to it on the wall[3]:

Where burthen’d Thames reflect the crowded sail Commercial care and busy toil prevail Whoese murky veil, aspiring to the skies Obscures thy beauty, and thy form denies Save where thy spires pierce the doubtful air As gleams of hope amidst a world of care

These poetic words suggest he was trying to capture a moment in time. It is almost as if he knew that London would become a crowded, busy place. As well as this, Turner was hinting that St Pauls and the Queen’s House would soon be accompanied by skyscrapers and cranes.

Turner’s oil painting deserves a feature on HogBlog as it is the iconic view of Greenwich. The royal observatory is a defining landmark of Greenwich and Turner's canvas represents London without the infrastructure we have today. The art piece has an essence of nostalgia and feels worlds away from the London we live in today.

[1] Tate. “‘London from Greenwich Park’, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Exhibited 1809.” Tate. Accessed March 7, 2020.

[2] “The Wilderness - Deer Park.” n.d. The Royal Parks. Accessed March 7, 2020.

[3]Tate, “London from Greenwich Park”

45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page