Joseph Mallord William Turner

Plymouth Sound: Devil’s Point and Mount Edgcumbe with the Great Mew Stone in the Distance

1813

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: 95 x 157 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09476
Turner Bequest CXXXI 186 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, the view is to the south-east at water level across the full expanse of Plymouth Sound, focusing on the Great Mew Stone off Wembury Point in the distance. There is a similar view from a little further south on folio 274 verso (D09474; CXXXI 185a).
This is the first of a sequence of drawings working in from the back of the sketchbook, which correlate with the journalist Cyrus Redding’s retrospective accounts of a voyage with Turner and others south across Plymouth Sound, out past the Mew Stone and thence eastwards along the coast to Burgh Island in Bigbury Bay. After a night at Kingsbridge, there followed a return journey by land to Boringdon Park, overlooking the Laira (Plym Estuary) near Saltram House, east of Plymouth (for Redding and more of his reminiscences of Turner in Devon see the Introduction to the tour). Assuming the sequence is a continuous one made on their journey, it may extend as far as the view of Plymouth Citadel on folio 228 verso (Tate D09382; Turner Bequest CXXXI 139a), or the last few may relate to their stay at Saltram the next day (again, see the tour Introduction).
Redding gives a detailed account of the voyage, to culminate in a prospective meal of ‘hot lobsters ... just taken from the sea’, in a ‘Dutch boat, a famous sea-going craft, with the usual outriggers’ belonging to a Captain Nicols, along with ‘an artist, named Demaria, ... and a military officer’.1 James Demaria was a scene painter at the Opera House in London, whom Turner may already have known, and the young David Cox had worked under him in Birmingham around 1800.2 Redding continues:
The morning did not look very propitious: there was a heavy swell rolling into the sound, and the wind rising. The sea had that dirty, perturbed appearance which is sometimes the forerunner as well as the follower of a gale. We worked out into the sound, where the breakwater had been just commenced, keeping towards Penlee and Rame-head [see folio 265 verso; D09456; CXXXI 176a], to obtain an offing. As soon as we saw we were clear of the nearer headlands on the east, we got well off the land, and while still running to the eastward, the sea rose higher. Off Stoke’s point it became very boisterous; but our boat mounted the ridges bravely.3

Matthew Imms
April 2014

1
Cyrus Redding, ‘The Late Joseph Mallord William Turner’, Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, vol.45, no.266, February 1852, p.152; see also other versions or quotations from Redding in Cyrus Redding, Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal, with Observations on Men and Things, London 1858, vol.I,, p.199; Walter Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Founded on Letters and Papers Furnished by his Friends and Fellow-Academicians, London 1862 [1861], vol.I, p.202; Cyrus Redding, Past Celebrities Whom I Have Known, London 1866, vol.I, p.48; W[illiam] Cosmo Monkhouse, Turner, London 1882, p.80; Walter Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Founded on Letters and Papers Furnished by his Friends and Fellow-Academicians: A New Edition, Revised with 8 Coloured Illustrations after Turner’s Originals and 2 Woodcuts, London 1897, p.143; and Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Second Edition, Revised, with a Supplement, by Hilda F. Finberg, revised ed., Oxford 1961, p.198; for a synopsis of Redding’s account see Eric Shanes, Turner’s Rivers, Harbours and Coasts, London 1981, p.7.
2
See Finberg 1961, p.200; and Jack Lindsay, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work: A Critical Biography, London 1966, pp.70, 149, 227 note 1.
3
Redding 1852, p.152; see also Redding 1858, I, pp.199–200; Thornbury 1862, I, p.202; Redding 1866, vol.I, p.48; Monkhouse 1882, p.80; Thornbury 1897, p.144; and Finberg 1961, p.198.
4
Redding 1852, p.152; see also Redding 1858, I, p.200; Thornbury 1862, I, p.203; Redding 1866, vol.I, p.48; Monkhouse 1882, p.80; Thornbury 1897, p.144; and Finberg 1961, p.198.
5
Redding 1852, p.152; see also Redding 1858, I, p.200; Thornbury 1862, I, pp.203, 208; Redding 1866, vol.I, p.49; Monkhouse 1882, p.82; Thornbury 1897, p.144; and Finberg 1961, p.199.
6
Redding 1852, p.152; see also Redding 1858, I, pp.200–1; Thornbury 1862, I, pp.203–4, 208–9; Redding 1866, vol.I, p.50; Thornbury 1897, p.144; and Finberg 1961, p.199.
7
See William R. Jones, ‘Wolcot, John (bap. 1738, d. 1819)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 8 Dec 2011, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29828.
8
Redding 1852, p.153; see also Redding 1858, I, p.201; Thornbury 1862, I, pp.204, 209; Redding 1866, I, pp.50–1; Monkhouse 1882, p.82; Thornbury 1897, p.145; and Finberg 1961, p.199.
9
Redding 1852, p.153; see also Thornbury 1862, I, pp.209–10; Thornbury 1897, p.146; and Finberg 1961, p.199.

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