View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
These two views, one above the other, appear to be variations of the same scene, with rocks on the left and a tower on a promontory on the right. It has been suggested1 that the compositions may be connected with the watercolour Catwater [sic], Plymouth of about 1826 (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Hobart, Tasmania),2 engraved in 1828 for the Ports of England but not published until 1856 in the Harbours of England series (Tate impression: T04836). It seems quite possible that these variants are ‘colour beginnings’ for the watercolour, which measures 159 x 229 mm, close to the dimensions of the individual compositions here. The view is to the east from Plymouth Sound, with the Mount Batten tower on the right, and is perhaps based on sketches in the 1813 Plymouth, Hamoaze sketchbook (Tate D09224, D09225; Turner Bequest CXXXI 7, 8).
On the recto is an unrelated watercolour study for the ‘Little Liber’ mezzotint traditionally known as ‘Gloucester Cathedral’ (Tate D25430; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 307).
The technique is very washy and fluid, particularly in the upper view and on the right hand below. Pencil work is limited to the distant masts in the lower composition.