Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Coastal Headland; a Plan of Boulogne Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 328 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 1

Catalogue entry

On one of the inside covers of the sketchbook, Turner has here described a vista of sea, sky and land in pale watercolour. Finberg described the view as a harbour seen from a high vantage, presumably finding a headland in the broad lilac brush-strokes on the right.1 An equally faint area of bluish-green describes the sea while a central belt of reserved paper and dragged strokes of darker blue give the impression of clear sky breaking through dense cloud cover. The composition is inverted in relation to the sketchbook’s foliation.
Unrelated to the watercolour sketch is a rough pencil plan of Boulogne’s port area towards the bottom left of the page. The prominent semi-circular feature delineates the bassin à flot excavated to harbour the Napoleonic fleet prior to its failed 1805 attempt on England.2 The dock’s north-western inlet is oriented towards the right. See also the harbour plan on folio 2 verso (D35405; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 3v).
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.1168.
Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, French Fortifications, 1715–1815: An Illustrated History, Jefferson NC 2010, p.188.
Technical notes:
Transference from folio 1 recto opposite (D35403; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 2) has created light patches of ochre in the top left quadrant.

John Chu
November 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop