Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Harbour at Parton, near Whitehaven


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 x 231 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLV 8

Catalogue entry

This is the first of five sketches from this sketchbook that record subjects in the Whitehaven area on the north-west coast of Cumbria. The present subject (and three of the others) is the village of Parton, about two miles north of Whitehaven, taken from the rocky foreshore, immediately north of the harbour, with boats pulled up to the harbour wall and the village buildings seen beyond. Turner sketched a similar view (D12250; Turner Bequest CLV 9), but from closer to the end of the harbour wall.
Turner was in the area of Whitehaven in 1809, when he visited the Earl of Lonsdale at Whitehaven Castle and Lowther Castle near Penrith. Parton, like Whitehaven, was a coal port that serviced the Earl’s coal mines in the area. The capacity of Parton, however, was greatly diminished in 1795 when its breakwaters were severely truncated in a storm, and its trade gradually slipped away thereafter. There is no sign now of there ever having been a harbour. Turner made several other sketches in the Whitehaven area in 1809 on pages now outside the Turner Bequest, and there seems no reason to think that they were not all made on the same visit.
Not visible since stuck down, but an inscription (?by one of the Executors of the Turner Bequest) in pencil ?‘Sched 164.9’ may be seen through the recto. The majority of pages in this sketchbook are similarly inscribed (for the significance of this see notes to D12241, D12244; Turner Bequest CLV 2, 4a).

David Hill
June 2009

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