Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boscastle Harbour


Not on display
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 x 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 182

Catalogue entry

Finberg noted this sketch as the basis for the watercolour Boscastle, Cornwall of about 1824 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford),1 engraved in 1825 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England2 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). He analysed the similarities and also the differences between the slight sketch and the finished design, ‘recreated from the stores of the artist’s knowledge’.3
The viewpoint is the north bank of the River Valency, which enters the sea at Penally Point beyond the headland on the right known as Profile Rock. Boscastle’s short stone pier is on the opposite side to the lower left; the building beyond does not survive. Unusually, Turner has made two attempts at the outline of the headland and tower in the distance on the left, adopting the lower version for the blustery watercolour, where figures are added above the pier controlling an incoming sailing boat among choppy waves by the use of long ropes.4
There are two views from further along the river towards the sea in the contemporary Cornwall and Devon sketchbook (Tate D41336, D41353; Turner Bequest CXXV a 55a, 71), and what seen to be distant views from the north-east on folios 252 verso and 253 recto (D08805, D08806; CXXIII 249a, 250).
Wilton 1979, p.354 no.478, reproduced.
Finberg 1910, pp.99, 100; see also Herrmann 1968, p.68; Wilton 1979, p.354; Shanes 1981, p.152; and Shanes, Joll, Warrell and others 2000, p.101.
Finberg 1910, p.102.
See Shanes 1981, p.28.
Technical notes:
The leaf appears to have been taken out of the book and reattached to a new stub, although there is no record of early exhibition or display.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

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