Here Turner looks down from the slopes north of East Looe to the River Looe’s medieval bridge (since replaced), with the castellated tower of St Martin’s Church at the foot of the slope on the left, and the coast of Looe Bay in the distance. The space between the bridge and St Nicholas’s Church, right of centre, is rather compressed, exaggerating the bulk of West Looe Hill beyond, the viewpoint of a sketch in the opposite direction on folio 17 verso (D08885; CXXV 16a). There are two further views of Looe in this sketchbook, on folios 15 recto and 16 verso (D08881, D08883; CXXV 14, 15a). There are also studies in the contemporary Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (between Tate D08580 and D08588 (Turner Bequest CXXIII 111a and 115a; and on Tate D08614; Turner Bequest CXXIII 129a).
Finberg noted that the present sketch is the basis of the watercolour East and West Looe, Cornwall of about 1815 (Manchester Art Gallery),1 engraved in 1818 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England2 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). Eric Shanes also notes two of the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketches (Tate D08582, D08583; Turner Bequest CXXIII 112a, 113),3 although Turner followed the present drawing very closely.
This leaf is stamped ‘CXXV - 17’ on its otherwise blank recto (D08886; CXXV 17) with an unusual short dash, apparently having been first stamped ‘CXXV – 30’ on the present page with a long dash, matching most others in the sketchbook. Finberg’s 1909 entry for ‘[Page] 17a’ implies that the leaf was in its present sequence at that time, and it is unclear when it and CXXV 30 (D08909 and its verso, D40816), originally stamped ‘CXXV – 17’, were exchanged.
The missing bottom right-hand corner has been made good. There is some staining and spotting in the sky.