Joseph Mallord William Turner

?A Rocky Cove on the Isle of Wight with a Distant Tower


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 110 x 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 43

Catalogue entry

The nineteenth-century description of this vigorous subject as a ‘mountain stream’, retained by Finberg,1 is somewhat belied by the presence of a low tower with a turret and flagpole in the distance, indicating the modest scale of the foreground features. Ian Warrell has identified the tower as that of East Cowes Castle2 on the Isle of Wight (see folio 16 verso; D20757), although this is uncertain and made more so by that building’s demolition. Assuming the view is topographically accurate, it might alternatively show nearby Norris Castle, overlooking the Solent (see the Introduction to this tour); compare folio 33 verso (D20781; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 31).
For other drawings showing the island, including some on adjacent pages, see under folio 2 recto (D20735).
Finberg 1909, II, p.700.
See Warrell 1991, p.65.
Technical notes:
This is one of several pages where the monochrome grey wash common to all the rectos has been worked in watercolour with occasional scratching out; see under folio 5 recto (D20741).
The surface has darkened through prolonged display, except where the edges were protected by a mount. That the page was reinstated in its correct position is indicated by the presence of stray strokes of watercolour extending onto the verso of folio 28 opposite.
Blank; inscribed ?by John Ruskin in red ink ‘994’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘144’ D’ top left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXVII – 43’ bottom centre. There is what may be a long vertical stroke of grey watercolour at the bottom right, or it may be offset from the recto of the page originally opposite, folio 30 recto, which was presumably prepared like others in this sketchbook with a grey wash That leaf only survives as a short, unaccessioned stub with a band of grey wash, made up with modern white wove paper which has been left blank (see the technical notes in the sketchbook’s Introduction).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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