Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping off Gosport; Storehouses and the Semaphore Tower in Portsmouth Dockyard


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 160 x 100 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 15

Catalogue entry

There are five bands of studies here, comprising views of shipping in Portsmouth Harbour. In the top one Gosport is seen in the distance to the south-west; in the second a ship is seen off what may be the Square Tower semaphore station on the Portsmouth side. In the middle is a slight view of hulks and warships, while below are two views of the waterfront of Portsmouth’s naval dockyard from the west, with separate details of the cupola clock tower of No.10 Store and the nearby Semaphore Tower. Turner has noted a colour detail and the ‘9’ bays of one of the storehouses.
This is one of a continuous series of views around Portsmouth between folios 1 recto and 20 recto (D17913–D17951); many appear to have been made from a boat; for the overall sequence and details of the most prominent buildings and defences, see the Introduction. Eric Shanes has noted that the subject of a small sailing boat passing the hull of a warship can be ‘related pictorially’ to one of the watercolour studies of hulks on Tate D25508 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 384),1 although the similarity is perhaps fortuitous.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Shanes 1997, p.102.

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