Joseph Mallord William Turner

Martello Towers near Bexhill, Sussex

c.1808

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 184 x 272 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08138
Turner Bequest CXVII K

Display caption

Martello towers were built on the southern coasts of England between 1796-1812, to deter a French invasion. Blake and his wife lived further west along the coast, at Felpham, between 1800-3. He may have conceived the words which we now know as Jerusalem there.

Blake often called the island of Britain ‘Albion’. Being so close to France, its south coast was militarily very active, as the soldiers seen here suggest. While at Felpham Blake was arrested as a spy, probably because his activity as a miniature painter was mis-heard as ‘military painter’. Jerusalem is not, of course, about military strength.

Gallery label, July 2008

Catalogue entry

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