Joseph Mallord William Turner Land’s End c.1834

Artwork details

Artist
Date c.1834
Medium Watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 352 x 511 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25165
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 43
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Catalogue entry

This is one of eight ‘colour beginnings’ catalogued here as Land’s End subjects; the others are Tate D25129, D25163, D25172, D25274, D36323, D36324 and D36326 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 7, 41, 50, 152, CCCLXV 32, 33, 35). A further colour study has been proposed as a Land’s End view among other possibilities (Tate D25185; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 63). For Turner’s 1811 pencil sketches at Land’s End, see under D25129.
Noting Ian Warrell’s unpublished identification of the present colour study,1 Eric Shanes has suggested it, D25163, D25274 and D36326 (CCLXIII 41, 152, CCCLXV 35) relate in varying degrees to the watercolour Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End of about 1834 (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles),2 engraved in 1836 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (no impressions held at Tate).3 The most closely related pencil study in the 1811 Cornwall and Devon sketchbook (albeit with many variations) is Tate D41303 (Turner Bequest CXXV a 27). Of the four colour studies, this is the most directly comparable to the completed design in its strong structure and colour. Shanes has described it as setting the scene for the ‘moral agenda’ of a shipwreck subject, expressing ‘mankind’s hubristic attempt’, in the form of the lighthouse (not indicated here but seen on the horizon in the England and Wales view), to overcome nature, the failure of which is shown by wreckage in the foreground of the finished watercolour.4
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
1
Shanes 1997, pp.95, 98.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.401 no.864, reproduced.
3
See Shanes 1997, pp.18, 81, 95, 98, 101, 104
4
Ibid., p.21.
Technical notes:
The left-hand edge has been torn very roughly, leaving serrations. Eric Shanes notes that the paper is the ‘same’ as for the colour studies Tate D25167–D25171, D25184 and D25208 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 45–49, 62, 86).1 The ‘Ruse & Turners’ watermark was current from 1805 to the 1840s, representing various permutations of partners (Richard Turner and Mr Letts by 1828) producing paper at Upper Tovil Mill, Maidstone, Kent.2
1
Ibid., pp.95, 98.
2
See Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.87.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

About this artwork