Joseph Mallord William Turner Bridport (West Bay) Beach; ?Weymouth and Portland 1811

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Artwork details

Title
Bridport (West Bay) Beach; ?Weymouth and Portland
From Devonshire Coast, No.1 Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CXXIII
Date 1811
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 75 x 117 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08452
Turner Bequest CXXIII 47 a
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Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has noted this sketch as the basis for the watercolour Bridport, Dorsetshire of about 1818 (Bury Art Gallery and Museum),1 engraved in 1820 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England2 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). The watercolour follows the outlines here quite closely, with even the complex breaking waves following the looping lines at the bottom right of the sketch. Bridport’s harbour (indicated by the buildings in the middle distance), is a little way south of the town and is now known as West Bay.
Howard Hanley identifies the view as from the beach in the direction of (Lower) Eype,3 looking south-east. The sandstone West Cliff rises in the foreground, with East Cliff beyond the buildings; they have since been much eroded.4
Towards the top right is a slight, separate drawing of the profile of a coastline with the sea to the left, unrelated to the main drawing, and may be a reprise of the view of Weymouth on folios 44 recto and verso (D08445, D08446).
Hanley suggests that Turner’s watercolour was also informed by the next drawing in this book, on folio 49 recto (D08455), which he also identifies as of Bridport, though it may actually show Charmouth, about seven miles to the west (see the catalogue entry for further discussion). Turner himself inscribed a drawing in the larger Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook (Tate D08840; Turner Bequest CXXIV 29) as ‘Bridport’, although it definitely shows Charmouth. A view of cottages and cliffs on folio 57 recto (D08471; CXXIII 55b) also appears to show Bridport.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
Wilton 1979, p.353 no.465, reproduced; unspecified ‘[d]rawings made at Bridport’ in this sketchbook and elsewhere are mentioned.
2
Shanes 1981, p.152.
3
Hanley 1992, p.30, reproducing comparative modern photograph, ‘Cat.56’.
4
See ibid., p.31 for further comparative photographs showing West Bay from the other direction, pp.30–1.

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