Joseph Mallord William Turner

Buildings on Cliff, Probably near Dover


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 69 a

Catalogue entry

As aptly summarised by Finberg, this drawing describes buildings on the edge of a coastal cliff.1 In light of the topography explored on surrounding pages, it seems likely that the scene denotes a view near Dover in Kent, possibly looking northeast from a point around South Foreland lighthouse and St Margaret’s Bay. A squat building, situated close to the edge of the cliffs in the distance, seems to support a vertical pole which is crossed twice by shorter, horizontal lines. This also features in an earlier drawing in the present sketchbook which considers South Foreland lighthouse, on folio 63 verso (D17313). For a list of presumed and identified drawings of South Foreland, see the entry for folio 8 recto (D17220).
The topography is treated with loose and fluid handling in the foreground. This gives way to jagged, zigzagging detail at the cliff edge before the rock plummets down to the water. Turner seems to be close to such an edge himself, as sharp lines cut into the blank space of the paper towards the bottom right corner.
Finberg 1909, I, p.606.
Technical notes:
A small triangular stain marks the top edge of this page, towards the left corner. This seems to have been left by a glue, or similar adhesive substance.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop