View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
[from] Views in Sussex pub.?1820 [T04428–04438; complete]
Eleven etchings and line-engravings by W.B. Cooke, various sizes and papers, comprising six subjects out of a total of nine (see also T05078 below); some annotated in pencil with names of collectors
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery (earlier provenance given in individual entries where known)
Lit: Eric Shanes, Turner's Rivers, Harbours and Coasts, 1981; Eric Shanes, Turner's England 1810–38, 1990
The series Views in Sussex was commissioned by the wealthy Sussex MP and landowner John (or ‘Jack’) Fuller. Turner seems first to have made Fuller's acquaintance about 1810, in which year Farington recorded in his diary (21 April) that the artist had been engaged by Fuller to make three or four drawings in the county; these were shortly afterwards engraved in aquatint by the German printmaker J.C. Stadler (Rawlinson II 1913, nos.822–5), and issued privately at Fuller's own expense (Herrmann 1990, p.91). Then about 1815 Fuller agreed to finance a second series of prints after other watercolours of East Sussex scenery he had purchased from Turner in the intervening years, this time to be engraved in line by W.B. Cooke who was at that time already collaborating with Turner on the series Views on the Southern Coast of England (see introduction to T04370-T04427).
At first Cooke appears to have made good progress with the plates; four of the five prints which were to appear in the first part, ‘Battle Abbey’, ‘Brightling’, ‘Pevensey Bay’ and ‘The Vale of Heathfield’, are dated 1816 in their etched states (and also in some of their subsequent states; see T04429-T04435). By the end of 1818, however, the first part was only just ready for publication, as is clear from a letter dated 21 December 1818 in which Cooke writes to the publisher John Murray as follows: ‘the work is to be divided in Three Parts - the first Part (Plates and all) is ready for the Press and Mr. Fuller urges me to publish the first of March next [1 March 1819]. As the plates are done I see no reason for Keeping the Work back... - I shall therefore send you in course of today a prospectus of the Work also, to insert into your list of Publications under the conviction that you will publish them’ (Shanes 1981, pp.8–9). Murray insisted on sole rights of distribution and agreed to introduce the work on all his lists and to advertise it in his Quarterly Review in return for a ten per cent commission. In the event, however, Murray failed to advertise the series in his Quarterly Review, either because the plates were not in fact yet ready or, perhaps, because of Cooke's slow progress on the Southern Coast plates for which Murray was also publisher at the time. This gave rise to a serious dispute between the two men, as a result of which Murray withdrew as publisher not only of Views in Sussex but also of The Southern Coast (see Gage 1980, no.82 and introduction to T04370-T04427). The first part of Views in Sussex must have come very close to publication, however, since Finberg mentions seeing copies of it with John Murray's name and address as publisher crossed through by hand on the covers (though remaining on the title-page and plates; see A.J. Finberg, Turner's ‘Southern Coast’, 1929, pp.70–1); while Rawlinson lists the first five prints in the series as bearing the anticipated publication date of 1 March 1819 (although he specifies that this applies to the prints in their second published state, whereas in fact none of them had yet been published by that date).
When Murray backed down, Cooke decided to publish the plates himself, and in 1820 issued a prospectus announcing that ‘the work will contain Fourteen engravings of the most choice Landscape and Marine scenery in the Rape of Hastings, displaying with Truth and Effect the grand character of this picturesque part of the Coast’ (Rawlinson I 1908, p.69). Two parts were advertised, with a list of plates in each, and prices were given as £5. 10s. for India proofs, Imperial folio, £4. 10s. for proofs on French paper, and £3 for Super Royal Folio (ibid.). However, only one part was published, containing five line-engravings after Turner (Rawlinson 1 1908, nos.129–33), and an allegorical design on the wrapper etched by Turner himself with the assistance of J.C. Allen (ibid., no.128, repr. Shanes 1990, p.10; for a letter alluding to the collaboration, see Gage 1980, no.81). Still entitled Views in Sussex and with an accompanying letterpress by the painter Ramsay Richard Reinagle, this first part was probably published in 1820 soon after Cooke had issued his prospectus, since the plates were already finished by this date. According to Shanes the second part, for which the unfinished plates ‘Bodiham’, ‘Hurstmonceux’ (Rawlinson I 1908, nos.134–5, see T04437-T04438) and also ‘Winchelsea’ (ibid., no.136) were presumably intended, was due to be entitled ‘Views at Hastings and its Vicinity’, although Rawlinson and Herrmann argue that the latter was an alternative title for the whole project. Cooke apparently continued to advertise this second part for another four years before finally abandoning the project altogether (Shanes 1981, p.9).
T04428 Battle Abbey, the Spot where Harold Fell
Etching 162 × 242 (6 3/8 × 9 1/2) on wove paper 197 × 251 (7 3/4 × 9 7/8); trimmed within plate-mark
Inscribed in an unidentified hand ‘Unique - before the rebite’ and ‘WBC [? Sc]’ lower right
Lit: Rawlinson I 1908, no.129, etching (not listed)
Etching of plate published in part I, pl.2. Original watercolour: untraced (Wilton 1979, no.423; Shanes 1981, no.96):
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996