Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Fowey and Polruan Blockhouses from the Fowey Side

1811

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: 75 x 117 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08392
Turner Bequest CXXIII 16 a

Catalogue entry

Although there is no resemblance, Finberg speculated from the indistinct lower inscription that the castle was that of Lulworth in Dorset, for which see the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook (Tate D08828; Turner Bequest CXXIV 19). Rather, the view is of the blockhouse at Polruan, looking south-east from its counterpart at Fowey across the Fowey Estuary. St Saviour’s Chapel crowns the hill beyond. The Polruan fortification survives relatively intact, but little remains of the one at Fowey. There is another view from nearby on folio 17 recto opposite (D08393); for other views in and around Fowey see under folio 5 verso (D08371).
The inscription at the top refers to a pound note1 which Turner presumably spent or broke in Fowey when he was drawing the fortifications. However, the same number appears in the list of banknotes on folio 253 verso at the back of the sketchbook (D40905), where it is crossed out and annotated ‘Lost’, presumably indicating Lostwithiel, a few miles inland, as written in full inside the back cover (D40906), while the preceding number on the list is suffixed with ‘Fowey’.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
See Howard J.M. Hanley and Paul M. Holland, ‘Turner’s Banknotes and the West Country Tour of 1811’, Turner Society News, no.76, August 1997, p.14.

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