Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Coast near Portsmouth, with Southsea Castle and the Isle of Wight; Figures in a Boat Passing a Buoy


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 x 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 4 a

Catalogue entry

There are four coastal profiles in the Portsmouth area here. At the top right is Southsea Castle, at the southern tip of the Portsmouth peninsula. The two profiles below appear to be the Isle of Wight, south-west across Spithead. Also in the top half is a sketch of a shallow boat carrying two figures past a large buoy. There are two similar coastal views on folio 5 recto opposite (D17921).
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. This page has been linked1 to the watercolours Portsmouth of about 1824 (Lady Lever Art Galley, Port Sunlight),2 engraved in 1825 for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04419, T05302–T05304, T05994), and Portsmouth of about 1824–5 (Tate D18152; Turner Bequest CCVIII S),3 engraved in 1828 for The Ports of England, and reissued in 1856 in The Harbours of England (Tate impressions: T04833, T04834). In each design there are boats in the foreground, passing a prominent buoy; the design of the one in the Southern Coast version is particularly comparable.
Eric Shanes has identified the watercolour study currently known as ‘Red Jetty with Yellow and Blue Sky’ (Tate D36048; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 203)4 as a ‘View of the Isle of Wight from Portsmouth Harbour, with the blockhouse at Gosport on the right; based on TB CCVI, f.4v’,5 but the subject is unconfirmed (the structure perhaps looking more like a wooden pier), and any similarity to the minuscule vistas on the present page may well be fortuitous.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See Shanes 1981, p.153, re Southern Coast and Ports.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.354 no.477, reproduced.
Ibid., p.387 no.756, reproduced.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1189, as Lake, with pier’.
Shanes 1997, p.98.

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