J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

Joseph Mallord William Turner Coastal Scenes with Shipping, Possibly on the Cattewater, Plymouth c.1826

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Coastal Scenes with Shipping, Possibly on the Cattewater, Plymouth circa 1826
D40149
Watercolour on white wove paper, 300 x 230 mm
Inscribed in pencil ‘78’ towards top left, inverted
Stamped in black ‘[Turner Bequest monogram] | CCLXIII–307’ top right, ascending vertically
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
These two views, one above the other, appear to be variations of the same scene, with rocks on the left and a tower on a promontory on the right. It has been suggested1 that the compositions may be connected with the watercolour Catwater [sic], Plymouth of about 1826 (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Hobart, Tasmania),2 engraved in 1828 for the Ports of England but not published until 1856 in the Harbours of England series (Tate impression: T04836). It seems quite possible that these variants are ‘colour beginnings’ for the watercolour, which measures 159 x 229 mm, close to the dimensions of the individual compositions here. The view is to the east from Plymouth Sound, with the Mount Batten tower on the right, and is perhaps based on sketches in the 1813 Plymouth, Hamoaze sketchbook (Tate D09224, D09225; Turner Bequest CXXXI 7, 8).
On the recto is an unrelated watercolour study for the ‘Little Liber’ mezzotint traditionally known as ‘Gloucester Cathedral’ (Tate D25430; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 307).
1
Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.95, where the finished watercolour is dated to about 1824.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.388 no.761, reproduced; see also Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, p.141 no.112, reproduced in colour.
Technical notes:
The technique is very washy and fluid, particularly in the upper view and on the right hand below. Pencil work is limited to the distant masts in the lower composition.

Matthew Imms
November 2011

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Coastal Scenes with Shipping, Possibly on the Cattewater, Plymouth c.1826 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2011, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-coastal-scenes-with-shipping-possibly-on-the-cattewater-r1133284, accessed 11 July 2014.