Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ilfracombe from the West


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 142 x 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 37 a

Catalogue entry

Ilfracombe itself is hidden beyond the nearest, heavily marked cliffs, with the profile of Hillsborough beyond the town’s harbour towards the top left, and the hills running eastwards towards Combe Martin receding towards the top right. Eric Shanes has noted this sketch among others1 in relation to the watercolour Ilfracombe, North Devon of about 1813–16 (private collection),2 engraved in 1818 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). See the entry for the recto (D41314) for further discussion and other Ilfracombe views.
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’ appear to have originally been loose sheets, and are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject as ‘Rocks on coast’ in a manuscript listing,3 while C.F. Bell similarly described it in his own notes as ‘Rocky coast’.4 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
Shanes 1981, p.152.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.352 no.462, reproduced.
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.357, as CXXV(a) 89.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356B, as CXXVa 37a.
Technical notes:
The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet, which is also badly rubbed down the left-hand edge, which appears to mirror damage to folio 40 verso (D41319), a sketch of Combe Martin, suggesting that the pages were once adjacent and accidentally stuck together.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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