Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Rock Arch on Burgh Island


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 95 × 157 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXI 170 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, this drawing is part of a sequence working in from the back cover of the sketchbook, which correlates with accounts of a voyage Turner and others made from Plymouth south-east to Burgh Island, returning by land towards Plymouth. The sequence begins on folio 275 (D09476; Turner Bequest CXXXI 186a), under which the overall trip is discussed, and may extend as far as folio 228 verso (Tate D09382; Turner Bequest CXXXI 139a).
The sketches between folios 260 verso and 253 verso (D09446 and D09432; CXXXI 171a, 164a) show Burgh Island, just off the coast at Bigbury-on-Sea, as discussed under D09446. The island is well known today for its art deco hotel, and this and the drawing on D09446 appear to show the rock arch nearby at the east end of the island, beside the hotel’s natural ‘swimming pool’ cordoned off from the sea. Turner has recorded the outlines and strata of the rocks in some detail, using hatching and dark shading to a degree unusual for him.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


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