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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Fishing Boats on the Shore and the Bass Rock 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 32 Recto:
Fishing Boats on the Shore and the Bass Rock 1818
Turner Bequest CLXVII 31
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 186 mm
Inscribed in blue ink ‘31’ top right
Stamped in black ‘CLXVII 31’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
With a backdrop of the view north-east along the Firth of Forth with North Berwick Law on the left and Bass Rock on the right,1 Turner has created a tableau of two fishing boats and a selection of fishing paraphernalia: baskets, fish, floats and a lobster pot. The boats seem to be pulled up on the beach, and the other objects are neatly laid out as if on display, suggesting that Turner either invented the scene, or rearranged objects that he had seen to make a pleasing composition. At the left of the picture, the drawing continued slightly onto folio 31 verso (D13635; CLXVII 30a).
Fishing boats and related paraphernalia are also present in William Daniell’s 1822 aquatint of The Bass Rock (Tate T02923), part of his Voyage Around Great Britain series; although the viewpoint differs.
There is a pale pink smudge at the bottom right of the page, the remains of Ruskin’s red ink numbering.

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

Shanes identified this view as Bass Rock: Shanes 1997, p.92.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Fishing Boats on the Shore and the Bass Rock 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2008, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-fishing-boats-on-the-shore-and-the-bass-rock-r1132184, accessed 20 May 2018.