Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Wall near Battle Abbey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 200 × 325 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXVIII 11

Catalogue entry

Probably a right-hand page from the sketchbook, with stitch holes on the left.
As Finberg surmised, the view is near Battle Abbey, and was used as the basis for the watercolour Battle Abbey, the Spot where Harold Fell (currently untraced)1 made for John Fuller circa 1816 and engraved by William Bernard Cooke in 1819 for Views in Sussex. In the engraved design, the site is figured as the place where King Harold Godwinson was slain in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Turner introduced a hare as a ‘bit of sentiment’, having allegedly confused this King Harold II with Harold I, Harold Harefoot, who had died some years earlier.2
In his letterpress for Views in Sussex Ramsay Richard Reinagle wrote of this plate that ‘A more scanty assemblage of materials for a landscape composition could hardly be presented to an artist ... [but] Mr. Turner has achieved a prodigy’.
There is a stain of oil or varnish in the bottom right corner, and damage on the left near the stitch holes.

David Blayney Brown
April 2011

Wilton 1979, p.348 no.423.
For discussion of this, see Eric Shanes, Turner in 1066 Country, exhibition catalogue, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Hastings 1998, p.4.

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