View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Eric Shanes writes that this drawing is a view of Mount Batten Point across Plymouth Sound, related to the Ports of England watercolour design of Catwater, Plymouth (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Hobart, Tasmania) or the designs for the Rivers of Devon series: Plymouth Citadel and Plymouth Sound.1 Turner had previously also pictured Mount Batten at Plymouth for the Southern Coast series in around 1816 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) (see Tate impressions T04388, T05973, T05397).2
Rendered in warm yellow wash, Turner depicts Mount Batten in the distance on the left. The fifteenth-century circular artillery fort can be seen atop it. A whirling, tempestuous sky rendered vigorously in dark blue-grey wash frames the landmark, the sea ominous in charcoal tones beneath it. The atmosphere lightens towards the right of the composition where Turner has applied pale pink-orange wash in translucent layers to offer a contrastive illumination to the sombre rain-heavy cloud. The suggestion of what could be a sail-boat or perhaps the beginning of a landmass is rendered within this area at the right.
Turner produced two views of Plymouth for the Ports of England series: the first, simply entitled Plymouth, of about 1825 and the second, entitled Catwater, Plymouth, a year later. Though neither of these works is in the Turner Bequest, colour studies do remain at Tate. One relates directly to the first of these Ports views (Tate D25272; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 150). The other is a very loose study of Mount Batten tower from a distance (Tate D20217; Turner Bequest CCXX Jb).
There are some incidental markings in brown wash at the top right of the verso of the sheet.
Inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII 222’ top left.