Joseph Mallord William Turner

Headland Views along the South Coast of England

c.1821–2

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 187 x 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17300
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 57

Catalogue entry

This is one page out of a total of nine upon which Turner records copies of engravings from The Little Sea Torch. Written by Richard Bougard, the illustrated text was translated from the French by J.T. Serres and published in London in 1801.1 For more detailed information about the book, and an interrogation of Turner’s use of it, see the sketchbook Introduction. For the other pages in the sequence, see the entry for folio 55 recto (D17296).
On the present page Turner produces a visual list of headland views from the reference text, all made with the sketchbook turned vertically. There are eleven individual drawings on this page, realised to varying degrees of elaboration.
A great number of inscriptions by Turner’s hand are included on this page, the first positioned at the very top, towards the left. As noted by Finberg this reads ‘Beachy Hd’.2 The south-facing Beachy Head cliffs are the tallest chalk sea cliffs in the United Kingdom, situated towards the western end of the Eastbourne coastline.3 The name is derived from two French terms: ‘Beauchef’, and ‘Beaucheif’, which mean ‘beautiful head(land)’.4 Turner notes down a view of the cliffs at the top of this page, emulating engraving 5 on plate 3 in The Little Sea Torch, which is titled, ‘Beachy Head from the S.W’.5
Immediately below is a second inscription: ‘Berry Hd’. This and the associated drawing underneath are copied from the first engraving on plate 4 of Bougard’s book, which is described as depicting ‘The Berry Head. S.W’.6 Berry Head is a headland situated towards the southeast of Brixham in Devon;7 the artist had sketched the fortifications there in 1811 in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08557; CXXIII 99a). The 1801 engraving describes and annotates the dark shape of the ‘Dartmouth Mewstone’ towards the left, a landmark that Turner also includes at left in his sketch.
Moving down the page, towards the right is a third inscription. Finberg transcribes this as ‘Portland Bill’, which is a narrow peninsula at the southern end of the Isle of Portland, also the southernmost point of Dorset.8 In the drawing immediately below, Turner renders a view in which hatched headlands overlap as they recede into the distance. Taken from plate 3 of The Little Sea Torch, this view recreates the seventh engraving, ‘The Bill of Portland’.9 The artist visited Portland in 1811; see in particular Tate D08837 and D08838 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 26, 27) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook.
1
Richard Bougard, The Little Sea Torch: or, True Guide for Coasting Pilots: by which they are clearly instructed how to navigate along the coasts of Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, and others in the Straits; and of The Coast of Barbary, from Cape Bon to Cape de Verd, trans. with corrections and additions by John Thomas Serres, London 1801. For an online and PDF facsimile, see ‘The Little Sea Torch’, accessed 26 October 2015, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, http://purl.pt/23500.
2
Finberg 1909, I, p.605.
3
‘Beachy Head in Eastbourne’, Visit Eastbourne, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.visiteastbourne.com/things-to-do/BeachyHead.aspx.
4
‘About Beachy Head’, Beachy Head Countryside Centre, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.beachyhead.org/About.html.
5
‘Plate 3’, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 6 November 2015, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/155/html.
6
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/157/html, accessed 6 November 2015.
7
‘Berry Head Location Map’, Countryside Trust, http://www.countryside-trust.org.uk/berryhead, accessed 6 November 2015.
8
Finberg, p.605.
9
‘Plate 3’, The Little Sea Torch.
10
Finberg, p.605.
11
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch.
12
Finberg, p.605.
13
Ibid.
14
‘Polwhele’s Devonshire’, Murray’s Hand-Book for Devon and Cornwall, quoted by Samuel Lewis in The Book of English River: An Account of the Rivers of England and Wales, London 1855, p.445.
15
‘The Great Mewstone’, South Devon AONB, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/explore/wembury/the-great-mewstone.
16
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch.
17
Finberg, p.605.
18
‘The Needles Rocks’, The Needles Landmark Attraction, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.theneedles.co.uk/pages/needles-rocks.
19
Ibid.
20
Ibid.
21
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch.
22
‘Needles’, Trinity House, accessed 6 November 2015, http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses/lighthouse_list/needles.html.
23
Ibid.
24
Shanes 1990, pp.127 under no.99, 284 note 94.
25
Not in Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979.
26
Shanes, p.127.
27
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch.
28
‘Chapel of St Aldhelm’, National Coastwatch, http://www.nci.org.uk/stations/chapel-st-aldhelm, accessed 6 November 2015.
29
Ibid.
30
‘Old Harry Rocks’, Jurassic Coast: Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site, http://jurassiccoast.org/rocks-and-fossils/the-science-of-a-beautiful-landscape/1014-old-harry-rocks, accessed 6 November 2015.
31
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch.
32
Finberg, p.605.
33
‘Plate 4’, The Little Sea Torch.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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