Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Monument Commemorating the Murder of Martha Blewett on the Road between Mousehole and Paul


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 142 x 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 89

Catalogue entry

The sketch shows a cross which then stood in Mousehole Road between Mousehole and Paul, south of Penzance (see under folio 6 recto; D41281) and Newlyn, Cornwall, commemorating the November 1792 robbing and murder of Martha Blewett by a local fisherman who was hanged the following year, as recorded in the register of the parish church at Paul.1 On the horizon to the left is the distant coastline on the south-east side of Mount’s Bay, with the coast south of Mousehole on the right. The narrow lane is now lined with trees at its top end, towards Paul, and by houses further down, making the exact viewpoint difficult to establish.
Turner copied the monument’s inscription in abbreviated form. It is recorded in the parish register: ‘Remember the Almighty the Great King of Kings and Lord of Lords hath in the table of his law commanded – ‘Thou shalt do no murder’.2 The text is based partly on Clarence’s appeal to his murderers in Shakespeare’s Richard III:
Erroneous vassals, the great king of kings
Hath in the table of his law commanded
That thou shalt do no murder. Will you then
Spurn at his edict ...?3
The conjunction of ‘King of kings’ and ‘Lord of lords’ occurs in the New Testament,4 and in the popular ‘Hallelujah’ chorus of Handel’s Messiah.
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’ appear to have originally been loose sheets, and are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject as ‘Monument on hill, with distant view of sea’ in a manuscript listing,5 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Wooded country, in left foreground memorial cross’.6 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
Transcribed in a posting by ‘Diane’, alias ‘T.H. Donohue’, at ‘Cornish-Gen-L Archives’, Rootsweb, accessed 22 October 2010,; and by Paul Marley with variations on the same site at
Richard III, I. iv. 174–7.
1 Timothy 6:15; Revelations 17:14 and 19:16.
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.356, as CXXV(a) 2.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356C, as CXXVa 89.
Technical notes:
The sheet has yellowed generally, with some white patches.
Blank, save for inscription by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘100 r. hand’ bottom right. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

Read full Catalogue entry


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