Joseph Mallord William Turner

Castle Cornet; Defensive Structures, Guernsey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLII 52 a

Catalogue entry

This page features several sketches of the defensive coastal structures around the island of Guernsey. At the centre of the page is a description of sail-boats clustered around the foot of Castle Cornet, which guarded St Peter Port from an island in the middle of the harbour. To the right-hand side of the page, a building sits high on the brow of a hill, perhaps recording the appearance of Fort George, just to the south of the same town. For the key entry on this complex of defences, see folio 29 verso (D23575; Turner Bequest CCLII 29a).
Inverted in relation to the sketchbook as foliated, a sketch of coastal terrain dominated by another defensive structure features along the top edge of the page. The outline of this building matches that of the low ‘Martello’ towers – such as those at forts Hoummet, Saumarez, and Grey – which were built to reinforce the island’s defences during the Napoleonic Wars.1

John Chu
April 2014

See W.H. Clements, Towers of Strength: the story of the Martello towers, Barnsley 1999, p.169.

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