Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Cliff with Towers; Studies of Boats


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 76 × 98 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Turner used this page turned all four ways. Orientated in line with the sketchbook’s foliation there are some working figures in pounds, shillings and pence. The figure ‘25’ recurs on folio 1 recto opposite (D35758), and the note here presumably informs the longer inscription there.
At the left, drawn with the page turned vertically, is the profile of a rugged coast, apparently with a square tower towards the left and a more slender structure beyond towards the right, under which is a word illegible but for its initial ‘W’; for the identified topographical subjects around Kent in this sketchbook, see the Introduction. At the opposite side of the page, along the gutter, is a longer inscription which so far eludes all but an extremely tentative reading, but the possible ‘Bill’ may relate the passage to the financial notes on the opposite page, where the same word definitely occurs; then again the possible ‘Bowsprit’ might relate the words to the small study of the hull of a boat below them. Inverted in relation to the financial note is the port side of a small ship, possibly a hulk; compare the more developed subject on folio 25 recto (D35800; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 24).
In a cramped space in the middle of the page, hemmed in on all sides by Turner’s inscriptions and drawings and overlapping with them, is the endorsement of the Executors of the Turner Bequest, Henry Scott Trimmer, Charles Turner, John Prescott Knight and Charles Lock Eastlake in ink ‘No 250 | Containing 36 Leaves | Pencil sketches | most on both sides | H.S. Trimmer | C Turner’ and in pencil ‘JPK’ and ‘C.L.E.’

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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